They’re hee–ere. As the Olympic sprint begins I’m getting furtive messages and texts from friends and former teammates who share a now familiar mixture of emotions: Part excitement for the upcoming competition and the rare opportunity for prime time coverage of winter sports; part wistfulness about time gone by; and yes, even now, part regret at what we might have done. I get this from Olympians and non Olympians alike, from medalists and non medalists.
It must be part of human nature to always feel like you could have done more. In sports that scenario plays out at every level: you are one of the best in the country but don’t make the national team; the best in the country but don’t make the Olympic team; make it to the Olympics but don’t win a medal; win a medal but it isn’t gold. The blessing of aiming high carries its own curse.
Never does that uneasy sense of unfinished business feel more real than during the Olympics. Inundated with all those up close and personal stories of hardship, perseverance and, ultimately, glory, it’s hard even now not to envy the glory part—not to want a piece of it, however fleeting.
But fleeting it is, and remembering that is some comfort. We all have to get up in the morning and (hopefully) like who we see in the mirror, without anything shiny hanging around our necks. And regardless, these tweaky moments are merely a stage of the emotional rollercoaster that is the Olympic viewing cycle. Once the Games begin it’s a great show and like every other spectator my teammates and I get caught up in a host of little dramas that would never otherwise penetrate the bubble of our daily consciousness.
Olympic season also means an uptick in Olympic related stores, so I am sharing all of mine right here. First is an essay Once an Olympian that ran in SKI’s January issue detailing the lifelong bennies and hazards of being an Olympian. Next are two interviews written up by Kristin Lummis AKA Brave Ski Mom, about shifting roles from athlete to mom to parent/coach. The first appeared on Liftopia and the next was on her Brave Ski Mom site. And finally, the Racer Next column in the upcoming issue of Ski Racing will have another take on Olympic memories, and their sometimes disproportionate weight (Until it goes live you can enjoy the link to a little tribute to Austrians in general and Hansi Hinterseer in particular.)
And finally, to all of you who would like to toast the Olympics in style, here are some ideas for Olympic Snow Drinks from Bring It!
And now, get a seat on a comfy couch, settle in for a couple of weeks and yeah, Let the Games Begin!