The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Western Tribune column February 17 2010 Olympics

My column focuses on the Olympics.

What could be more fitting than a day of snow prior to watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics? Never mind that snow was lacking in Vancouver, British Columbia, the host city.

Those watching the event quickly learned that a Georgian athlete, luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, had been killed in a training accident earlier in the day. The ceremonies were dedicated to the young man and the festivities went on. The Olympic and Canadian flags were lowered to half staff.

Nodar Kumaritashvili Photo AP via Huffington Post

Some sports writers have said that the opening ceremonies should have been canceled or delayed or that luge events be canceled.

As one who has watched both winter and summer Olympics since 1964 I look at the games as the pinnacle of sporting events and as tragic as the death of a competitor is, the games must go on.

Although we don’t like to admit it, all sporting activities involve some degree of risk, including death. In Olympic history, death is nothing new.

Just prior to the 1964 games the deaths of a British luger and an Austrian alpine skier occurred prior to the opening ceremonies. Several other deaths have occurred in both winter and summer games. The games go on.

If one looks back to the ancient Olympics in Greece, death was sometimes a part of the competition in the sport of boxing, and possibly in other sports. In those games if a competitor died he was immediately declared the winner.

While competition and rivalry rightly exist in Olympic competition, a spirit of diversity, acceptance, and cooperation is one of the things most appreciated about the games. For two weeks during Olympic summers and two weeks during Olympic winters we can forget about politics, wars, and skirmishes, even though those things certainly are going on and even affecting the games.

Uncertainty is another factor in sports, and this is not the first time that a lack of snow in the host city has been a concern. In fact, for those same 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, the Austrian army brought in ice for the bobsled and luge runs and snow for the alpine events.

Let’s remember Nodar Kumaritashvili as an athlete who died doing what he loved to do, but let’s not let this or unpredictable weather hinder our enjoyment of sport.

“Shine in the momentum of noble contests,” the Olympic Hymn commands.

Shine, indeed, Vancouver and every athlete.


Medalists in men's singles were Felix Loch (Gold), David Moller (Silver), and Armin Zöggeler (Bronze)

Gold medalist Felix Loch

Here's Moller completing his run.

Armin Zöggeler preparing for a previous run.

Here are the three medalists.

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