In the past few weeks, I will admit that I felt pretty indifferent about watching the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. I can still remember a young, sports nerd version of me watch the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team capture the gold medal, snatching glory from the heavily-favored Soviet Union team. As young as I was, I could sense how impossible that accomplishment was. As much as it was a life-changing moment for the young men on the ice that day, it still had a profound impact on my life as I watched in my living room.
Thirty years later, I’m much less impressionable and much more cynical than I was when I witnessed “the impossible” in Lake Placid, New York. But watching the Winter Olympics last week, I witnessed two amazing feats of sportsmanship, talent and pure desire that inspired me and caused me to really take notice.
The first feat was Lindsey Vonn capturing the gold medal for downhill skiing. She came into the Olympics as one big question mark with an injured and sore shin. Somehow, she pulled it together for an amazing downhill run that had her, at times, skiing on one leg. I’ve heard plenty of people with their conspiracy theories that she was never actually injured…but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say that I was amazed to see her flying downhill at a blazing rate of speed. Through hard work, determination and gritty effort, she pulled it off.
The second feat was Shaun White‘s gold-medal winning performance on the half pipe. I must confess, I’ve missed just about every X Games in history, but I was looking forward to seeing what Shaun White was all about. I will say that I was absolutely blown away by his snowboarding talents and abilities. It was obvious to me, a complete snowboarding newbie, that he is miles ahead of his competition. To sample a little bit of his magic, check this video out…
One thing is certain: no matter which sport we enjoy or which country we come from there are numerous stories of sacrifice and practice from countless athletes at the Winter Olympics. The best of the best. These athletes are great reminders to us that they are in Vancouver on purpose, not by accident.
For an interesting video and some insight about how Shaun White prepared for the Olympics, check out this post from author of The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle.