February 2010: Olympic Thoughts & Start of the Season

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Watching the 2010 Vancouver Games has been so incredibly exciting, and at the same time incredibly difficult to watch. Every day I am glued to the television, in class, (yep, I admit it…and for my professors and classmates reading this, what can I say, I’m just being honest), I am glued to the Official Vancouver Website and various live feeds to get up-to-the-second information---isn’t technology wonderful? My roommate and I have a strong opinion, that the Olympics and Paralympics ought to be a vacation for all of us from all work, scholarly duties to simply sit back and support our countries athletes. The exciting parts are the stories of athleticism, watching dreams come true, and the surprises. The people who nobody believed were a contender just go out there and wow the world. Anything is fair game at the Olympics and Paralympics, despite what the best commentators, reporters, coaches, former athletes may predict—anything is possible.

In conversation last week with some colleagues in my doctorate program, we were talking about the differences between who goes all the way and who doesn’t at this level. I mean look at the times… today in the Men’s Super-G, the difference between gold and silver was a mere .28 of a second. But, get this, the difference between second and third, a mere .03, that’s three hundredths of a second. But it gets better, the difference between third and fourth place, .01. One hundredth of a second. Wow. So, what is the difference between these athletes? Athletically, not much. You all approach the starting gate, or starting line or final match with the same approximate level of athletic ability. The differences lie in who is able to remain focused when it counts, who can tread comfortably on the ambiguous line of risk-taking and execution. Who is “in the zone”. And if those results don’t show that, I don’t know what does. Way to go Team USA, and fellow eastcoast skiers!

The difficult part… every day watching the games makes me miss the mountains and ski racing more than ever. Let’s be clear on one thing: I have no regrets in my life. I do not regret walking away from ski racing in 2002 to come to college here in Illinois. It was the best decision for me at that time, for many reasons. But, it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life. And, secretly, though not so secretly now after this blog, I want to ski race again.

Things to think about.

While I think all that over, however, I am also gearing up for the start of our track and road racing season!!! I am also wicked excited about this. It is around this time in training when I start to get antsy for that first competition, because when you are stuck inside training all winter long, you just get that bug to get outside and to be in the racing environment. I can’t wait! The craziness of traveling, competing, taking classes and dissertationing (that’s a new one for me this year) are here, and I couldn’t be more ready—I thrive living in the edge of chaos.

Next stop: Tampa, FL for the Gasparilla 15k next weekend! Stay tuned for more!

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