Finding Olympic spirit in tragedy

Early Friday afternoon, veteran reporters of the Olympic Games were on the radio, discussing whether some of the winter sports had become too extreme. From injecting ice in ski runs to difficult snowboarding tricks which even left the sports’ superstar Shaun White with a fall in the preluding X-Games, the dangers of sport are part of the Games.

But when is the line crossed between the inherent danger of the sport, risks assumed and even injected by the athletes themselves, and creating reckless situations for the competitors?

That will certainly be a discussion during these Games after the tragic beginning to the Games on Friday, when 21-year old Nodar Kumaritashvili from the Republic of Georgia died from a crash during a luge practice run.

Competitors had complained about The Whistler Sliding Center even before the fatal crash. Known as the fastest track in the world, speeds and turns had featured other crashes in training runs and in the time leading up to the Olympic Games, athletes who would use the track in luge, skeleton and bobsled, were restricted from much access. Lack of practice time on the track could lead to some dangerous conditions, particularly for younger, newer athletes with less experience.

The athletes from Georgia have decided to continue during the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee announced it would make some slight modifications to the track and after a bit of a delay for extra training runs, the competition will go on as planned.

And that’s what we do in life.

We mourn. We discuss lessons learned. We make adjustments. We move on.

I can not imagine what it must be like to be an athlete from Georgia, suffering a tragic loss and going on to compete.

I can not imagine what it must be like to be a fellow luge athlete, or one of the other sliders, preparing for the competition. It’s not just the added fear to the equation, but the communal sense of loss.

Yet both groups will go on with the task at hand.

Some may call it a horrible price to pay for a shot at Olympic glory — glory which in this society is hopelessly fleeting.

But in a more meaningful way, the Olympics are not just about the pursuit of public glory, but about the pursuit of your passion. What calls you forward? What gives you life?

In the spirit of the Games and to honor Kumaritashvili, today will be a day for me to reflect on those ideas — my passions, my goals, my dreams — and to think about what I’m doing to celebrate and live them, fully and completely, every day.

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~ by amymoritz on February 13, 2010.

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