|The German figure skaters|
Savchenko and Szolkowy were one favored to do well, if not win. The Star Tribune summed it up in February 1, 2014 article, "Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy want to end their career with Olympic figure skating gold in Sochi, the only title missing from the German pair's impressive collection."
Read more about their hopes, now over, here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/243047331.html
It comes as no surprise to me that their goal was the gold medal. I think it is every athletes ambition to win a gold. It is the pinnacle of competition. If winning a national championship is Pike's Peak, winning a gold medal is Everest. And to summit this peak, this pair needed something special. Their something special- the triple axel. The Star Tribune article cited above explains:
"Their hopes of going out with a bang hinge on Savchenko's frail health and the perfect execution of a triple axel, a demanding element that sees the petite Savchenko thrown into the air by her partner for three and a half rotations before a hard and tricky landing.
"Very risky, very difficult, technically very high value," Szolkowy said of the element that can make the difference between gold and silver in Sochi."
Fast-forward to the finals. First came one of the Russian teams. They were amazing. The Germans were up next. They had to do even better and then still put some daylight between them and the other Russian team. Lots of pressure to say the least.
Let's go to the ice. The Germans begin their program. All starts well. Then, disaster strikes. I know nothing about skating except you need skates and an ice rink. Aside from that, it's all just a blur of talent and skill. So I cannot explain exactly what they were attempting, maybe that triple axel. I can tell you that one of them fell. And with that cruel display of gravity, their hopes were gone and gone with finality.
I can only imagine the countless hours of practice these two have gone through in their lives. Of the sacrifices, the pain, both physical and emotional, the rejections, the defeats, to get to this point. Then, in an instant, it's over. Just like Mitt Romney knew when Ohio went for Obama they knew with that fall the dream was dead. There would be no gold medal.
And their program had just begun.
Then, I saw something amazing and inspiring. They just kept skating. They went through their program as they had countless times before. They let go of the dream and lived in the moment. Again, I know as much about Chinese pottery as I do about ice skating but I saw something special in that routine and it moved me. Perhaps it was the fact that after the fall the program ceased being for the judges or the crowd or skating immortality but for them. The crowd melted away and they returned to the empty practice arena where it was just them, and their dreams. Now that the dream was done it was just the two of them. Alone at last...
At the end of the program, they attempted what I think was that triple axel. It didn't work. One of them fell. I am not sure which one and that really does not matter. They went out on their terms as if to say, "We're leaving nothing to ourselves, to the ice we offer all. All our passion and skill and love and yes, grief, at not obtaining our goal, of summiting our Everest." I thought it was fantastic.
I see a larger message in this for all of us. Yes, set goals and by all means, yearn for the top of the medal stand. Dare to dream big and have your heart broken. Know that in seeking great things, great sorrow may visit you. Yet also know that even if you cannot have one form of victory, you can achieve another as Savchenko and Szolkowy did. All you have to do is just keep skating.
Be well my friends,