February 17th turned out to be the day of clutch performances amongst America’s winter Olympic hopefuls. Focus, confidence, great effort, and a positive mental attitude characterized what were terrific performances delivered under duress. From problems with the ice conditions, to overcoming injuries all of these athletes fulfilled their promise in a day that will not soon be forgotten in American athletic history. PSJ’s editor, Dr. Stephen Walker, was asked several questions about the preparation of these athletes. The Q/A was compelling and informative (click here to check it out.)
Vonn and Mancuso started things off by maintaining their focus and managing their pain on a brutal course that was icy, scary fast, and unforgiving as one spectacular crash after another was witnessed by the huge audience at Whistler. White and Lago followed with tremendous performances on the massive half-pipe – especially designed to give really big air and unlimited thrills – as these athletes “hit” their mark on every trick. There was really no comparison as White stole the show with an unbelievable gymnastics routine in midair.
So surreal was the air that White got – I was reminded of this quote by Chogyam Trungpa – ‘The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.’
Perhaps the most unsung hero of the group was Davis, who also repeated his Gold Medal performance from Turin, Italy in the 1000 mm speed skating long course. During the preview of Davis’ race the team at NBC talked about all the detailed training moves he had made to make his competition ‘user friendly’. Not the least of which was moving to Vancouver so that he could train daily on the Rich Center ice. Problems getting the surface right in this venue have plagued speed skaters for the past two days – causing massive delays in schedule and throwing preparation routines into the ethers. Davis’ ability to adjust, keep centered and focused on his execution made all the difference where less than a second separated the gold medalist from 9th place.
Hats off to all these performers – they showed us how excellence is not only attainable – but likely – when we do what we need to do to achieve our goals. Preparation did indeed meet opportunity – and good fortune was realized.