Gold or Nothing

Canadian Hockey Loss
Jocelyne Larocque wanted no part of the silver medal following Canada’s 3-2 shootout loss to the U.S. in the women’s hockey final Thursday. (BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES)

In the last four Winter Olympics, Canada’s women’s hockey team has taken the Gold medal home and they looked to extend that streak in South Korea. The Canadian women were the heavy favorites as they got set to take on the United States, but they were shocked when the Americans scored a game-tying goal in the third period and forced overtime. Neither team could score in the extra period, so a shootout was upon us.

Team USA eventually scored an epic goal in the 6th round of the shootout to stun Canada and win gold. Jocelyne Larocque, a 29-year-old Canadian defenseman, was understandably upset, so when the Silver Medal was placed around her neck following the game, she immediately removed it.

Here’s how one reporter told it:

“Jocelyne Larocque of the Canadian women’s hockey team was upset, to say the least, at her team’s loss to the United States. Larocque was so distraught that when the silver medal was placed around her neck, she ripped it off within seconds.” It was something that we should never want our teams or our teammates to do.

On the one hand, I applaud Larocque for wanting gold and not wanting silver. I do. It appears that Larocque was channeling the drive and the determination of the great ones such as Michael Jordan and Tom Brady and Derek Jeter and Wayne Gretzky; certainly that is admirable. We all wish we could be as good as these all-star athletes at something, especially our favorite sport.  

On the other hand, the way she publically portrayed her cold angst and callous anger over losing, and probably losing to the US no less, was not cool. The gold or nothing mentality is contrary to the spirit of the Olympics in general and the spirit of sport in specific.

“The rivalry between the Canadian and the United States women’s hockey teams is one of most intense in the Winter Olympic Games. Canada was victorious over the U.S. the last four Winter Olympics but the streak was finally broken this year when the U.S. came out on top. The American’s last victory over Canada came in 1998 in Nagano, Japan”. https://www.inquisitr.com/4798473/canadian-womens-hockey-player-refused-to-wear-silver-medal-at-ceremony-after-u-s-won-gold/

Most of the tweets about Larocque’s focused on her poor sportsmanship. The Canadians have owned the US Women the past four Winter Olympics.  That’s dominance. So, in Larocque’s mind, another win was expected. And an unexpected loss was not welcome.

So here we go again with the life lessons sports teach us. First, sports teach how to win with grace. Second, sports teach us how to lose graciously.  We need to learn both lessons, the positive and the negative. After all, it, it takes a positive and a negative charge for a battery to make an engine go.

Here are three quotes that sum it all up:

Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.          

 Wilma Rudolph

 

Winning is nice if you don’t lose your integrity in the process.         

 Arnold Horshak 

 

That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing (with grace), in a curious way, is winning.

Richard Bach

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Are The Winter Olympics Way Too Long?

Here’s a humorous, tongue and cheek article by Ben Cohen and Joshua Robinson of the WSJ. It’s hilarious and well worth the read, just as Lyndsey Vonn’s Bronze Medal ceremony was worth the watch (she forgot to take her medal with her to the podium).

“PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—The Winter Olympics are a magical time every four years for people to marvel at sports that would almost certainly kill you, gawk at figure-skating wardrobe malfunctions and fall under the hypnotic spell of curling.

And then there are days like Monday. The complete list of medal events that day amounted to team ski jumping, 500-meter speedskating and two-man bobsled. That was it. Not a single medal was awarded before 9:53 p.m.

The slim pickings were symptomatic of a larger problem with the Winter Olympics: They’re way too long.

Wednesday was the 14th day of competition here. And somehow there were still four days to go. If it was beginning to feel like a slog, that’s because it was. There has never been a longer Winter Olympics.

But there is nothing in the Olympic Charter mandating that the Games need to feel this long. The Winter Olympics of 1976, 1980 and 1984 lasted 12 days from Opening Ceremony to Closing Ceremony. Until broadcasters wanted more. The Games expanded in 1988 to give ABC three weekends of television coverage during a typically dead time of the sports calendar between the Super Bowl and the NCAA basketball tournament. And they’ve only gotten longer since then.

The Olympics stretched to accommodate new sports that keep the winter Games fresh and relevant, like mixed doubles curling. With that there is now curling every single day of the Olympics. There is so much curling the only way that Pyeongchang’s organizers could squeeze it all in to 17 days was to stretch 17 days to 18 days: The first curling match was the day before the Games officially began. Eighteen days! That’s six days longer than the last NBA Finals, four days longer than Wimbledon and twice as long as the world championships dedicated specifically to curling.

So perhaps the sport could survive without nine matches of round robin play. And nobody needs 12 days of long-track speedskating either. Not even the gold-addicted Netherlands. They conduct their Olympic trials in all of four days.”

And the moral of the story is this: sometimes short and sweet is better than bitter and long.

Lindsey Vonn: Love Makes No Mistakes

As we wake up this weekend, we’re all so sad and sore for a legend and the lore of Lindsey Vonn. Lyndsey lost in her first attempt at gold in Pyeongchang in the Women’s Super G.

Lyndsey isn’t hard to like. First, she’s not hard on the eyes. She’s an attractive blond with a pretty smile and a supportive family. And she simply adored her grandfather who taught her how to ski fast. Unfortunately, her grandfather, Grandpa Kildow, passed away this past November. And she wanted to win gold in honor of him. So what’s not to like? The interview that Mike Torico, the NBC Winter Olympics host, deftly did at her grandparents home in Wisconsin before he died was a tearjerker. The interview was the last time Lyndsey saw her grandfather alive.

“When Kildow died in November just weeks before the 2017-2018 World Cup downhill skiing season began, Vonn struggled to come to terms with his passing. She shared a heartfelt letter she wrote to her grandfather on her Instagram page, giving a sense of just how much he truly meant to her:

Dear Grandpa,I still can’t believe you’re gone. No words can describe how much you mean to me and how much i love you. I wish i had more time with you but i will cherish the memories we had. You taught me to be tough, to be kind, and above all, to ski fast. Now, every time i ski down the mountain I know you’ll be there with me. I’m proud to be your granddaughter and I will think of you always. I will race for you in Korea and I will try as hard as I can to win for you. Please look out for me.

I love you Grandpa.

Lindsey

And it doesn’t look as though time has lessened her admiration for her grandfather; during an interview in PyeongChang on Friday with NBC, Vonn had a hard time keeping her composure as she talked about Kildow.”

Wow. It doesn’t get any better or more touching than that.

Lyndsey’s first event in 2018 was the Super Giant Slalom, and it didn’t go as well as she had hoped. First, she had to be the first skier down the hill and that, unfortunately, was a distinct disadvantage. Yes it was her lot to be first down the hill and no, this need not have been a handicap, but it was. She had no notion of how the course laid out before her because trial runs were not allowed.

Lindsey’s run was fast and clean at the top. But towards the bottom of the hill she took a turn too wide and it cost her dearly. She made just one mistake, and it was one mistake too many.

So we’ll all be rooting and cheating for Lyndsey in her final two events at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as these Olympics will be her last. And win or lose on the skiing hill, Lyndsey will always be a winner in her grandfather’s book.

Go Lyndsey! Win one for Grandpa Kildow.

Why Aren’t You Watching Mikaela Shiffrin (and others) in Pyeonchang?

Mikaela Shiffirn 2018 Gold

Even Shaun White could hardly believe it.

Shaun won the gold medal in the men’s halfpipe with a near perfect run in a dramatic finish. He was in first place until his closest competitor scored a 95.25.  That bumped Shaun down to second, with only one chance left to retake the lead. On his last run, White scored a 97.75 to pull ahead of Hirano, who landed back-to-back double cork 1440s of his own ( I can’t explain what that is, but whatever the term, it looks amazing when they’re in the air turning every which way) . I’m so happy for Shaun White, especially to win the way he did.

And not to be outdone, here comes Mikaela Shiffrin.

On the night after the aforementioned snowboarding legend Shaun White won the 100th Winter Olympics gold medal in United States history, Mikaela Shiffrin made it 101 as her legend grew. America’s next big thing in skiing picked up the second Olympic gold medal of her career and her first in giant slalom. Shiffrin’s combined pair of runs in giant slalom on Thursday clocked in at 2 minutes, 20.02 seconds, usurping 34-year-old Italian Manuela Moelgg for the top of the podium. And Mikaela, like Shaun, saved her best for last. She took first place on her last run which was her last chance to get the gold in this event. Whew!!!

Both victories came at the 11th hour, on fourth and goal if you will, (a.k.a. Nick Foles and the Eagles pulling off the Philly Special!) when both athletes had to have their best performance, ever. And if that doesn’t send shivers down your side and goose bumps up your spine, I don’t know what will.

Then, if that wasn’t enough to get your juices going even more, the German ice dancing pair that had vied for gold for what seems like forever finally broke through and won the pairs gold medal. They were sobbing – SOBBING- for joy, and I was too.

Aljona Savchenko is a Ukrainian who has skated in five Olympic Games for two different countries and with three different partners. In PyeongChang, she finally realized her Olympic dream of winning gold. Together with partner Bruno Massot, Savchenko, who skates for Germany, was in fourth place after the short program. But she and Massot were the only couple among the top three to skate a clean free program, which vaulted them to the top of the podium. Their scores were the highest ever recorded for the pairs long program and it was enough for gold. After earning two bronze medals at previous Olympics with another partner, Savchenko said of her first, long-awaited gold: “I never give up. I keep fighting.”

And that’s the lesson: Never give up. And Keep fighting. Just keep fighting and never give up. It’s the lesson we keep hearing and seeing and need to keep believing until our quest for gold comes true, too.

Shaun White Is Gold!

  Shaun-White Wins Gold

Shaun White did it!

Here’s how ESPN reported his epic come from behind win in the half pipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongyang South Korea:

“The pressure was real. So were the tears — of joy, relief, redemption.

This is why Shaun White keeps going. This is why the snowboarding superstar keeps coming back to the Olympics, a journey that’s seen him evolve from teenage phenom to global brand to living legend. One with a perpetual target on his back and impossible expectations to meet. Standing atop the halfpipe on a gray Wednesday morning at slushy Phoenix Snow Park with his hopes for a third gold down to one final shot, White never wavered.

 ‘I honestly knew I had it,’ said White, 31.

‘I knew I had to put it down.’ The stakes left him little choice. Rising star and heir apparent Ayumu Hirano had snatched the lead out of White’s hand during the men’s halfpipe final, throwing a spectacular epic second run to vault into the lead and put a portion of White’s Olympic legacy at risk. Not that it mattered.”

He knew.  Going into his final run, with the gold medal on the line, Shaun knew what he had to do. And he did it.

And Shaun’s victory gives us hope and heart and help to know that we can do it too. Whatever “it” is for you, you can do it!

Someone Please Explain To Me Why Curling Is An Olympic Sport?

Curling2

“The Winter Olympics are once again upon us, which means we get to see our favorite cold weather sports unfold over three action-packed weeks of competition at the highest level.

And, of course, we get to watch a bunch of curling.”

Curling.

Ok. So I’m patriotic and loyal and a devoted sports fan, so I’m “All In” when it comes to watching the Olympics (I watched curling last night!), but someone will have to explain to me why “Curling” is an Olympic sport. Do pray tell. I get that its played on ice. I get that part. But the brush the ice part and the yelling at your teammates part and the whole shuffleboard on ice part is where you lose me. I mean, it just seems like people in cold weather climates got bored to tears so that they began to invent games to keep themselves amused, if not warm.

As I always say, life is like sports and sports are like life. Some things you just can’t explain. They remain a great mystery. For those things that are beyond our grasp, it takes faith.  For it is only by faith that we understand the mysteries of life and the mysteries of God.The old saints said it like this; “we’ll understand it better by and by.” 

Anyway, here’s a Curling primer so that you (and I) can watch Olympic Curing with some level understanding, if not intelligence.

“If you’re like the majority of Americans, you just don’t get that weird game with the broom and the rock that you slide across the ice to try to hit a target while your teammates yell at you.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Pyeongchang games can be the year you finally understand the basics of this historic and quite challenging, if baffling, sport.

When Did Curling Begin?

Born in Scotland’s dreary winters, the sport of curling dates back to the 16th century.

Considered one of the world’s oldest team sports, early curlers gathered on frozen lochs and ponds to coax 40-plus-pound granite stones across the ice and into a target with the help of what, at least back then, were actual household corn brooms.

As Scots dispersed across the globe to places like Canada, the United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand in the 19th century, they took the game with them. And as the game went international, its rules and implements became more fine-tuned.

Who Can Play?

The curlers themselves also became progressively more elite. While just about anyone can acquire the skills to play at a moderate level, veteran curler Dean Gemmell from New Jersey’s Plainfield Curling Club told InsideEdition.com that to be an Olympian — as with most athletes — curlers must start young and train hard.

“You have to be able to put the stones in the right place with some physical capability,” Dean said. “Most high-level curlers nowadays you’ll see are extremely fit.”

What’s That Broom For?

Corn brooms have given way to push brooms, which have since been replaced by the nylon sweepers with swiveling heads and fiberglass handles that you see today’s curlers using to laboriously slick path toward their circular target, or “house.”

The stone itself is 44 pounds of good, old-fashioned granite culled straight from the earth. The world’s best curling stones are cut from rock that comes from just one spot on Earth: a tiny hunk of land in the waters off Scotland called Ailsa Craig.

So How Does It Work?

The thrower starts in the “hack,” or foothold at the end opposite the house. Using a broom for balance in one hand, the thrower glides out of the hack and lets the stone glide away from the other hand at the perfect moment.

As the stone moves toward the house, the thrower wants its path to curve or “curl” toward the target, hence the name of the game.”  http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/kfmb/syndication/inside/183214.html

There; that should get you started. And if anyone wants to explain how this game turned “sport” rose to the level of Olympic competition, please do chime in.

Is Anybody Watching The 2018 Winter Olympics?

Let’s take a unscientific poll: thumbs up for yes and thumbs down for no.

As for me, I’m not. Well, at least not yet. I want to watch and I plan on watching, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. For starters, I’m from Philly, and as a native Philadelphian, I’m still celebrating the Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots. And rightfully so, since this victory has been a long time in coming. So that’s my excuse. What’s yours?

Let me guess. First, you’re not interested. The 24 hour news cycle is so full of White House scandal and North Korean bramble that you just can’t keep up. That’s understandable. Second, most of the Country (the US that is) has been hammered by storms of some kind. Most of the Midwest and the Northeast have been hampered by winter weather, so people in cold weather watching other people in cold weather isn’t quite such a winter delight. And third, you just haven’t gotten around to it yet. That’s OK. You can use my excuse, as long as you’re happy for my Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Fly Eagles Fly!

So it’s Sunday. And, hopefully you’ve worshiped God in some form or fashion today. Now that you’ve put God first, let’s support our mother countries and the athletes that represent us. It’s the essence of teamwork and my favorite theme, Team, Team, Team!