The Sochi Winter Olympics comes to a close today. As I reflect on the pageantry and competition some things stand out.
Figure skating has yet to shake the reputation of being wrought with scandal and corruption.
The world seems to love seeing Jamaica in the winter Olympics. (And when they can pair their speed with a great bobsled driver the world better watch out.)
Some athletes are less interested in the country they represent and more interested in participating in the Olympic games.
The other thing I really noticed during these games is second and third place mean very different things depending on the sport. The US women lost in the gold medal match to Canada, they didn’t win a silver medal. Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams won a silver medal by being the second fastest bobsled team on the course. Snow board crosser Alex Deibold won a bronze medal by crossing the finish line before the remaining races on the course. Almost any cross-country skier, snowboarder, alpine skier, or skater who crossed the finish line in medal position raised their arms in victory because they won a medal.
Team sports with scores have a different feel for the second place team than most of the racing events. There is a very different psyche involved in these sports. When you race and you put it all on the line in that moment and it is hard to not feel satisfied with the results. However when you play a team sport it is hard to not look back and analyze each play, each call, each should have, could have, would have.
Of course this is an oversimplification. The racers who cross the finish line in second place ache in the same way that athletes in team sports ache. They analyze their races, work on technique and go through their own version of all the things they could have done differently. But I suspect that comes later, after the race is over.
I suspect it is just the initial reactions that differ. In the end each of these athletes that medal get to do something that most people in the world never get to do; compete in the Olympics, represent a nation, and earn a medal.
Can’t wait until 2014!