February 22, 2006
Courage in defeat
TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

TURIN -- It was one of the great Olympic triumphs in history, but to Deidra Dionne it wasn't qualifying for the final.

Dionne stood at the top of the freestyle ski run yesterday and decided that wasn't enough, to merely battle back from a broken neck at the start of the season, but to do the jump which put her in hospital in Australia, where a team of a dozen surgeons placed titanium screws and a piece of hip bone in her neck.

"I stood up there and decided to try the trick I broke my neck on," she said.

"I did one in training on the day we were first supposed to compete," she said of the weathered-out first attempt to get it in.

"I wanted to do it at the Olympics. That was a pretty big deal for me.

"I didn't land it as well as I wanted. And the judges didn't give me the marks I was looking for from it. But I did it.

"I feel proud of that. But I'm also sad, because no matter what, I'm a competitor and I don't like to lose."

Dionne ended up 22nd in a field of 23, beating only Elizabeth Gardiner of Australia.

Veronika Bauer of Toronto was the only Canadian to qualify for today's final. She finished in fifth place. Amber Peterson of Thunder Bay was 15th.

"I promised myself whatever happened, I'd enjoy it," said Dionne, a Red Deer freestyler who won a bronze medal for Canada at Salt Lake 2002.

The other thing she promised herself was that she wouldn't go through what she went through this year to get here to stay around next year.

"I'm taking a year off. I had my back frozen and my elbow frozen just to compete (yesterday).

"I'll take a year off and make sure when I go back, I do it right.

"I don't want to come back being held together by binder twine."