Spirit of Olympic competition inspiring on so many levels

The world seems like a smaller place when Olympic athletes take center stage.
With the flame burning now just miles away from a North Korean nation in the midst of a very different global battle, the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea have drawn us together yet again, reminding us what athletes can achieve. It’s a welcome relief from the kinds of headlines we’re are used to seeing these days from that part of the world.
It’s also fascinating to watch the winter version of the Olympics, which features unique events typically out of the global spotlight. I’ve been glued to the tube for years when the ski jump comes on, watching daredevils fly through the sky in an event that makes you wonder how it ever started. This time around, we’re seeing new twists from winter risk-takers, with Big Air snowboarding taking flight and a lengthy list of other high-flying theatrics that require as much or more acrobatic skills as snow skiing ability.
And did you catch any of the luge or skeleton action? Holy cow. Talk about daredevil instincts, flying around an ice-covered track at 80-plus mph on a tiny sled with your body just inches off the ground. That’s heart-stopping television.
The United States is competing hard in South Korea, though it’s becoming clear that we don’t excel as much in the snow and ice as American athletes do in the summer Games. About half way through this 17-day spectacle, Norway leads in the medal count with 11, followed by the Netherlands and Canada tied with 10 apiece. The U.S. of A is well back with six medals, including three golds, one silver and two bronze.
These Games offer proof positive, however, that there is so much more to athletic competition than the final order of finish. Hearing story after story about the years worth of blood, sweat and tears athletes must endure to even make it to the Olympics is so incredibly inspiring, and in some ways makes you look in the mirror here at home. Would we, have we, committed ourselves to that level of personal challenge, ever, putting every ounce of energy and God-given talent into a single goal? The fact that these men and women, some of them teenagers with a flame burning pure and bright, have done just that is awe inspiring, no matter how they finish.
Given that preparation and global spotlight, new American heroes emerge from each and every Olympics. This time my money is on Lindsey Vonn, who skied to glory eight years ago and now has America holding its breath each time she heads downhill. In that instant, we’re not Republicans, Democrats, men, women, whites or minorities, we’re just Americans rooting for one of our own.
Now that’s something worth watching!
Kurt Johnson

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