Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

February 17, 2014

TIDBITS: The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat

CROSSVILLE — The eyes of the world have been focused on Sochi the last week or so as the winter Olympics enthralled us all. Out of the games come some memorable moments.

We’ve gotten to rejoice with athletes in the thrill of victory as the Canadian curling team went 8-0. With a record like that, you can almost forgive them for putting our own women’s curling team out of the games.

We’ve admired the humble nature of hockey team star TJ Oshie, who won a shootout Saturday against Russia to help Team USA advance. When called a hero for his skill in the shootout, he said, “Heroes wear camo.

“My grandparents were in the military and so is a cousin of mine, and a close buddy, so when I heard the word `hero’, it didn’t really seem like what I am,’’ he said Sunday. “Those guys sacrifice a lot more than a couple of hours in the gym and practice every day. Those guys sacrifice their lives.’’

While I don’t like to turn professional athletes into role models, I think we can all agree this young man is a good example of keeping your feet on the ground when everyone would have you flying high on your own ego.

We’ve also been there to witness the agony of defeat. While many of the sports determine the winner based on the scoreboard, many Olympic events are determined by judges. And sometimes you just don’t agree with the judges’ opinion. Just ask Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner.

She came off the ice thrilled, just knowing she’d skated a good program. Then, she saw her scores come in at a disappointing 63.10 in the team figure skating competition. That was six points shy of her season best score.

Wagner made a disappointed face and mouthed a word that showed her displeasure in the score. That face was captured and became more famous than her routine to “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

Of course, there is nothing the public loves more than an underdog. Wagner gets to compete again this week in the individual figure skating competition. According to reports, she took the weekend to get away from Sochi, work on her routine to fix the things that didn’t score so well before and to get ready to try again.

And then there was Andrew Weibrecht, the “War Horse.” The American member of the US Ski Team is going home with a silver medal in the super-G. He won a bronze in Vancouver, but his return to the Olympics and a better finish wasn’t a safe bet. He blew out both ankles and had surgeries on both his shoulders. He also lost his sponsors at one point for less-than-expected results.

Like all athletes that make it to the pinnacle of their sport, it wasn’t easy. He had setbacks and he had challenges. And he had to have the drive and determination to keep going when I would guess many people told him it was time to hang up his competitive skies and enjoy the slopes for a hobby.

It’s those behind the scenes stories that make the Olympics such an interesting event to watch. You can only sit through so many snowboarding competitions and watch so many figure skating routines before your eyes start to glaze over. If you’re not an expert, it’s really hard to determine who will win because you aren’t a judge. But when you hear what these individuals have gone through to get to where they are, it’s inspiring, and it can help all of us make the decision to take another run at the challenges we have faced, to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and try again.

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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