Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Thrill of Giving It Your All

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games are only three days old, but already there's been an abundance of exciting action to absorb ~ and knowing that there are so many stories and lasting memories that are yet to unfold.

So far, I have limited my Olympic intake primarily to the opening ceremonies. However, with figuring skating on TV tonight ~ beginning with the pairs competition ~ all bets are off. Even though, as a West Coast resident, I am unfairly subjected to waiting for NBC's prime-time coverage on a three-hour tape delay (while the east and central time zones get to see it live) and I already know the outcome from following a live results feed via the Internet in real time.

After watching the top Chinese pair Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo skate a superior short program that would place them first among 20 teams with 76.66 points, it was soon time for an American pair whom I knew nothing about to take to the ice. And what an impression Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig made on me over the course of their 2 minute, 50 second performance which included seven required elements such as the death spiral. Nice personalities, good skating, inspiring music.

"I think they had a lot of fun with that performance," said NBC skating analyst Sandra Bezic after Evora and Ladwig made their Olympic debut Sunday night in the pair's short program, performing to the "Portugese Love Theme" from the movie Love Actually.

The reaction of the Pacific Coliseum crowd, which included Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, suggested the American couple had done well. Evora and Ladwig showed good chemistry on ice and certainly did nothing to embarrass themselves or their nation.

"I worked hard," Ladwig told NBC's Andrea Joyce afterward. "It was meant to be," added Evora. There was no crying in the Kiss and Cry area as Evora and Ladwig waited for their scores to post.

While their score of 57.86 placed them 10th overall going into Monday evening's long program finale, there is a tremendous satisfaction to be enjoyed in knowing that Evora and Ladwig performed to the best of their abilities. Years of practice produced dividends. It resulted in a cleanly-skated program ~ the thrill of knowing they gave it their all.

"Whether they win a medal or not," said NBC skating analyst and former Olympic champion Dick Button, "they skated a wonderful program and they can be proud of that."

It doesn't matter what happens in the long program ~ or whether Evora and Ladwig medal or not. They've got a Olympic memory of a lifetime from their positive achievement in their short program. A thrill for them, a thrill for the crowd, a thrill for their country.

After all, isn't this what the Olympics is all about ~ the thrill of giving it your all?

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