So Shaun White didn't win a medal in these Olympics. Remember, Shaun backed out of the snow-sloping competition because he considered it too dangerous. Rather he was content to concentrate on his specialty -- the crack pipe, oops, the half-pipe. Come to think of it, crack pipe, half pipe, what's the difference? Though I've partaken of neither, it seems they both involve quick highs, doing crazy stuff, followed by down lows, then doing it all again -- over and over. Either way, it appears to be a slippery slope, but I digress.
But White wasn't quite up to his usual snuff on his last run and wound up in fourth place. Not bad, but no medal. Hey, it happens. Even the best can't stay on top forever.
Yet there were many complaints about this half-pipe course. The walls weren't smooth enough, causing the boards to vibrate. And OMG, though it was difficult to discern watching on TV, evidently there was a depression at the bottom of the middle of the course. Did these complaints come from the actual competitors? No. From the breathless announcers, of course. Nevermind the Russian hosts were constantly spraying the course down with water, and had a small army of people out there smoothing out the course in between runs. The talking heads somehow found a way to blame the course itself when competitors didn't complete flawless routines.
Well, guess what? Even if there was a major pothole in the middle of the course -- one would think world-class crack, sorry, half-pipers would adjust their routines to avoid it. After all, the entire field has to compete on the same course -- right? If conditions weren't oh-so-perfect, then too bad. Handle it.
Baseballers sometimes have to play in the rain, gridders in the snow, wind, and cold, and cagers occasionally have to endure the absolute torture of fans being less than complimentary. Incredibly at times, PGA golfers are made to suffer the physical abuse of a fan daring to breathe during their backswings, much less the obvious terrorists that would dare to try to take a picture. The poor dears. It's a testament to their fortitude that they merely survive such ghastly behavior.
You know what makes the Olypics unique? It's the only athletic competition(s) where coming in second, much less third is cause for celebration. It seems any athlete in any discipline is absolutely thrilled to win a medal. Gold goes without saying. They were the best in the world, and should rightfully be proud of what they accomplished.
But silver or bronze? While being second or third best in the world at anything is very impressive -- only in the Olympics is this considered some sort of victory. Be it the World Series, World Cup, Superbowl, Stanley Cup, NBA finals, the NASCAR Chase or Indy 500, or the 4 majors in golf and tennis -- nobody much cares about who came in second, let alone third. Yet I must admit the NCAA has quite successfully created a marketing extravaganza out of their Final Four when it comes to college hoops. But in the end, three of them still have to lose, and only one will be remembered as a champion.
Perhaps Tiger Woods summed it up best when he said coming in second only means you were the top loser.
But for now, all hail the Olympians from every country for the years of training they have put in just to get there to compete with the best from the rest of the world. And if they finish on the podium -- even if with only silver or bronze, and they're thrilled about it -- good for them.
One thing for sure. It's a lot better than finishing last, and it surely beats the hell out of never having made it to the Olympics at all.
That's quite a feat in itself, and though there can only be one gold medal winner -- hats off to all those who are the best in their countries at what they do.