Pairs Silver

I was watching ice skating.

It is beautiful to watch them, of course.

But what is more beautiful even to me, is not just how perfectly they execute what looks to be very difficult, what is amazing to me, esp. on the Olympics, is when they fall.

“Zhang Dan drew gasps from the crowd as her attempt to land the first throw quadruple Salchow in competition ended with her crashing to the ice and slamming into the barriers.

The fall appeared to end their medal prospects as a dazed Zhang Dan tried to get up before falling back on to the ice.

She made a second attempt to get up and instead winced and doubled over in pain. She eventually had to be helped to her feet by her partner but, incredibly, did not give up.”

” Zhang landed in the splits and had to stop. Five minutes later the 20-year-old returned to the ice and continued to skate, complete with twists and throws, to the delight of the crowd who cheered her every move.”

One has to imagine that for these people this is an incredibly lifetime opportunity, so one could not be blase about being in the Olympics. It’s never “no biggie”.

I imagine them all to be little hometown heroes, knowing that everyone they know is watching, their one big chance, the day they dreamed of for years, not to mention all the grueling practicing over and over and over. The cameras, the lights, all of it. The promise of money in endorsements…their whole life they’ve put on hold to attain this, this one moment. Just a moment, when they go on the ice.

Everything starts out smoothly and then the false landing, that image of gracefulness hitting the ice, the swarthy bands of muscles dashed against the sideboards–the pain in their body must be almost nothing compared to the pain everywhere else–professionally, emotionally–to do the impossible at that point, get up keep going and pretend it didn’t happen.

I might stare slack jawed at their skating, but when they get up, especially after a drop or a particularly cruel miscalculation, just a moment of distraction is all it takes, when they get up after what had to be obviously physically painful–that’s what brings a tear to my eye almost.

At that moment what they are doing is the really truly hard part.

Striving for perfection is commonplace, it’s almost a cliche. It’s when and how people pick themselves up and dust themselves off after falling on their faces that I find profound.

In fact I could watch a whole Olympics of this alone, to me that’s where the heroics are. It’s in that moment that they so beautifully encapsulate the things that people do daily-failed marraiges, getting canned from their jobs, a dying child–the big stuff. Things that people suffer in silence over, they do it in the middle of stadiums with spot lights, cameras and the whole world watching. Not only does it takes eggs, but the getting up is 100 times harder than the striving for perfection ever dreamed of being.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Fitèna says:

    I A-D-O-R-E watching Ice skating. I just mentionned to someone a while ago how I thought it not to be fair that its always the Russians winning! I know they’re good but they are so perfect and technical that…. It does not touch you! You know what I mean, like when their falls brings tears to your eyes! There’s this canadian 20 year old guy who is incredible! And he skates half the time smiling! It’s amazing! It seems to be done so effortlessly! I once watched a show where their was this acrobat who came to perform (not acrobat, the people who walk on ropes, how do you call them?). He was standing on this rope then flew and did some figures but fell instead of landing on the rope. He stood up and did it again, this time perfectly. He actually broke his ankle when he fell the first time! And he was smiling!!!Fitèna

  2. suleyman says:

    Fitena, tight-rope walker is what they are called.This Olympics seems cursed.Personally, I think skating is rather lame. It’s several steps below ballet. It’s ballet with soft rock and hard water. Don’t get me wrong, some of those moves are impressive, but I don’t really enjoy seeing it/hearing it. The prozaic looks on their faces are slightly disturbing as well.Russia? Who has the most gold medals? Why, I do believe it is The USA! USA! USA! USA!-Suley

  3. atpanda says:

    Yes, but did you watch the CURLING?? Seriously, I’m totally sucked into watching that. Oh, and snowboard cross. That is totally great.

  4. Adeline says:

    Actually, I am waaaaaay more into the SUmmer Olympics and them volleyball players. I have never seen such amazing women, they are all like Wonder Woman to me, or the Bionic Woman. Skating is like, well if it’s there I will watch it and I suck at ice skating and so what they do looks pretty amazing to me…can YOU do that Suley?Besides, the point of what I wrote didn’t really have much to do with ice skating anyway…

  5. M says:

    I love short track speed skating. Love it, love it, love it, am willing to travel an hour to watch it live (worlds were in Montreal four years ago, woohoo!)That sh*t is total melee. I can’t get enough. Boarder cross is a good placebo if there’s no short track.Ah, Olympics. Who needs friends??

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