Friday, February 12, 2010


 I always cry over the Olympics. Honestly I cry over most sports. The anthems, the gritted teeth, the striving and the achieving get to me. I grew up in a heyday of sports movies (Vision Quest anyone? Teen Wolf ?) and I've taken that last second buzzer beating straight to my tear ducts by way of my squishy soft heart.

I've got this evening's festivities on DVR so I'm watching about an hour behind. So far I've cried at past wins, past losses, current personal stories, the singing of O Canada, and the clips of Canadians helping stranded air travelers in the days after 9/11. (Thank you Canada. I'm sorry I didn't say so sooner.)

That's not all, of course. I'm sure I'm not alone in shedding a tear over the death of Georgian luge competitor, Nodar Kumaritashvili. Like many others I have long been fascinated by this crazy idea of strapping runners to one's behind and launching oneself down a sheet of ice. It looks simultaneously like the thrill of a lifetime and a great way to ruin an expensive pair of ski pants. It always seems dangerous but this track, the most recent step in the ladder of more, faster, bigger that competitions like this become, is measurably faster than any other track in the world and proved today to be quite dangerous indeed, particularly to less experienced athletes.

I'm sure that Kumaritashvili knew the risks of his chosen sport going in but a death in the Olympics is so rare it comes as a shock. Injuries are certainly common, but death we've managed to keep at bay. So I cried to see the fuzzy headshot of this baby boy just barely of an age to graduate college and dead on the frozen track.

If you want the whole truth, though, I also cried just a tiny bit out of joy for him. Not joy that he died or that he missed living his dream of competing in the Olympics by just 24 hours. Presumably, though, he died doing something he loved at the top level of his craft and that, for someone with just a few big dreams of her own, is cause for respect.

Godspeed young master Kumaritashvili. I hope the luge course on Mount Olympus is superb.


  1. I, too, cry often and unabashedly during the Olympics - for the pride, for the victory, for the defeat. I love the opening ceremonies but I also love seeing the individual sports and hearing the inspirational stories. It's a privilege to get to see people fulfilling their dreams.

  2. See, now, you made me cry! For the loss of Mr. Kumaritashvili, yes, but also for his victory. How glorious to die doing the thing that makes your heart race and your spirit soar!

    Add my thanks to Canada for Project Yellow Ribbon. How is it that I had no idea that our neighbors to the north played such a huge, immediate part in helping us recover from that horrific day?

    I am so not an athlete but I love the Olympics - the pageantry, the competetive yet graceful spirit, the camaraderie. Oh, and the figure skating... I will watch as much as I can in the next 16 days.

  3. I'm with Violet - this POST made me cry...

  4. What is going on in that picture? Did I miss the feline downhill racing?

    I also get a little teary-eyed, esp. during the medal ceremonies. Your elegy to this lost athlete is beautiful.