It’s a spectacle unlike any other.
Every four years, we tune in to watch drama, national pride, emotion and intense stories of personal sacrifice play out on television under five familiar rings. The torch of the XXII Olympic Winter Games is out now, but while it was burning in Sochi we were reminded again how sport can rise above the politics of our times.
Heading into these Olympic Games, it seemed that controversy could trump the competition. There were severe security concerns, reports of shoddy construction in the Olympic village and as always threats by some nations to boycott the Games in protest of the host nation’s policies. Reports that a suicide bomber may have entered the Olympic village just days before the opening ceremonies made the world hold its collective breath that something horrific wouldn’t happen on center stage.
The cost to welcome the world and host this historic event is in and of itself disturbing, quite frankly. Russia’s president seemed hell bent on proving that his country could wow the world and Sir Vladimir was Putin on the Ritz to the tune of a staggering $52 billion price tag. That topped Beijing’s $44 billion bill in 2008, both of which were ridiculous. The bidding process and concept that you have to build all new everything to host these Games needs revamped in a big way.
But all that conversation faded, fortunately, once the flame was lit. Over the past two weeks we’ve been captivated by the tension, pure emotion and unbelievable talent on display in sporting events that aren’t normally even on the radar. In many cases, young teenagers poured their heart and soul onto the ice or snow with fearless abandon, melting away pre-Olympic turmoil and perhaps, even if temporarily, a bit of global angst.
Though Nebraska’s own Curt Tomasevicz didn’t win gold this time around, we cheered him on, as we did all the young men and women who wore the USA uniform. Knowing his story more in detail and the sacrifice he has made for so many years just to get to that starting gate makes us swell with pride. He looked thrilled to claim the bronze, as well he should.
That’s the beauty of the Olympic spirit, a feeling rekindled every two years between the winter and summer Games. The looks on those young faces lightened our own spirits in the midst of a cold Nebraska winter, if only for a moment.