February 23, 2018

Going for the Gold

Going for the Gold

I’ve tried to catch as much of the Olympics on TV as I can, which is harder said than done, since TV time is a rare luxury for me. But how can you resist the human drama, the adrenaline rush as you root for the athletes, celebrating with them when they cross that finish line or land that triple axel, or agonizing with them when they crash and burn at the crucial moment? It’s a point of national pride. Plus, it’s the ultimate reality show. Even if you’re not a regular sports fan, it’s raw exhilaration that no movie of the week or CSI episode can match. And the Olympics really transcends sports anyway. (It’s also supposed to transcend politics, but let’s not go there).

Look at Lindsey Vonn, the 33-year-old downhill racer who simply loves competing too much to hang up her skis, despite the fact that she is almost twice as old as some of the other competitors. Her answer is to train harder and aim higher, and that, my friends, is what got her to the podium once again for a bronze medal in the Women’s Downhill race on Tuesday.

Look at the U.S. women’s hockey team, which is bringing home their first Olympic gold since the 1998 winter games in Japan. With karmic timing, they pulled it off exactly 38 years to the day that the U.S. men’s team made hockey history in Lake Placid by beating the Soviets (forever remembered as the Miracle on Ice). You know what it took for the U.S. women to take down Canada in Pyeongchang? Pure determination (the same stuff it took for them to win their face-off with USA Hockey over fair wages and benefits – another amazing coup!).

And what about five-time U.S. Olympian Kikkan Randall, who won the first-ever U.S. gold medal in cross-country skiing? In response to which the other Team USA members elected her to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission. Do you know of any other 35-year-old moms who managed a grueling Olympic training regimen while raising a family? There aren’t any.

The women are really impressing this year. These are people who do not take “no” for an answer. They set a goal, they did all the right training and preparation, and they stayed focused until they reached the Olympic podium.

Which is not to leave out the men. I have to give a shout-out in particular to Red Gerard, the 17-year-old who became the youngest person ever to win the gold in snowboarding. You’ve got to love a kid who binge-watched TV the night before his big race, overslept in the morning, and then had to borrow his roommate’s jacket to compete because he couldn’t find his. I think in this case, youth was the decisive factor. Red knew not what he knew not, so he didn’t sweat it (unlike the above women, who knew plenty and left nothing to chance). Then he got out on the halfpipe, blew his first two runs, and nailed his third for the top medal. Ah, to be young and naive again!

We can all take a lesson from these spectacular Olympians. Do what you love. Aim high, stay focused, put everything you’ve got into doing your absolute best, and never give up. Even if you don’t get there in the end, hopefully you will learn something along the way and enjoy the ride. And you’ll be setting a great example for your kids, among others, during the journey.

Have a great weekend, everybody. Go, USA!