Is it sacrilegious to talk about Olympics, a traditionally unifying event, when there are protests that are dividing the nation taking place every where? Of course, it isn’t! That’s because more than 99% of us are at home, staying warm, and watching it all on television!! We’re cheering on our nation’s athletes as they compete on the largest sporting stage in world, and still managing to fit in 30 minutes to laugh, moan and groan, at the protesters. To have a little rant, and then switch back to the Olympics and start cheering again.
On Saturday morning in China, Friday night in my part of Canada, I watched the Mixed Snowboard Cross Team event. I know!!! I have no idea what it is but it’s the Olympics and I watch every unusual event they have. Things I would never tune in to on any regular day! I’d rather watch old movies rather than watch a regular snowboarding event. I don’t ski or snowboard and usually have zero interest. But these are the Olympics, and that makes them noteworthy to me.
The Snowboard Cross Team events are new to the Olympics this year. It is a race. But unlike traditional skiing, where one racer goes down the hill at a time, carving around bends on two skis, racing the clock, the Snowboard Cross race in groups, on one board, against each other, in heats. Four competitors race down the mountain simultaneously, over jumps and around bends, all in an effort to win their heat, and advance to the finals. Sometimes, there is unintentional contact between the racers as they try to pass each other. There’s a lot of leaning into one another on the slopes, it causes spills and crashes. It reminds me of Roller Derby without the flying elbows! It is mayhem!
The Mixed event is done in two stages. The teams are comprised of one male and one female racer. Their times are combined and the race winners are determined by total time in each heat. Top teams advance until there are only four teams remaining in the final. The team from Canada was one of them. The men raced first and were at the bottom of the hill waiting for their teammates to race, not knowing which of them would be the Olympic gold medalist, as the women started their run.
Half way down the course, one of those unintentional roller derby moments happened. The race was close. Canadian racer Meryeta O’Dine, was in third, slightly ahead of Italian racer Caterina Carpano, when they took the first of a double jump. Meryeta came down from the air between the two jumps and a split second later so did the Italian. Right on the head and back of the Canadian!! Full board, not a slight nudge! Both boarders went sprawling!! Sliding to the bottom of the incline, snowboards strapped to their feet. They both lay stunned at the bottom of the gulley between the jumps.
The other two racers, from the United States and a second Italian team in the final, continued to the bottom of the mountain to take Gold and Silver respectively, oblivious to what had happened behind them. The six competitors in the final, four men and two women, stood at the finish line staring up at the hill and saw no one. For twenty seconds no other racer appeared.
Meanwhile, on the mountain, Meryeta was frantically hopping up the slope of the second jump. This was the final, and she knew that there was a bronze medal still available if she could finish ahead of the Italian that had just board-bombed her. She was not going to quit! The Italian was also hopping up the hill in hot pursuit. The Canadian racer reached the top first and slid down the second jump at what looked like a snail’s pace. Her momentum and speed increased as she continued to the bottom of the course and finished third. Winning an Olympic bronze medal for our country.
Watching Meryeta hop to the top, was a truly inspiring Olympic moment. She would not quit, even when things didn’t go her way. She didn’t lie there and cry, and blame the government for not letting her win, like she had intended too. She didn’t stop because some outside force had torpedoed her dream of Olympic Gold. No, she got off her ass, and found a way to get the job done! She blamed no one for the mishap, accepting that life is full of adversity that we all must overcome. Meryeta O’Dine is the perfect example of why I love the Olympic Games. I get to watch as athletes represent my country, and exhibit a pride and no-whine spirit, that lately has been lacking in Canada. A Canadian that I am proud to say represents me and shows the world, what a real Canadian is about. One that wears the Canadian flag over her heart, and not on her truck’s grill.