When Shaun White hit the lip of the half-pipe on his first run he seemed to defy gravity as he soared high above the crowd.
Lindsey Vonn, injured shin and all, had the mental fortitude and physical toughness to excel when not at her best.
There is no greater challenge to winning Olympic Gold than the expectations of others. When you can be great when people expect you to be great – that is the mark of a true champion.
Shaun White buried the competition last night with his first run. After throwing down the gauntlet he watched every challenger bring it, none getting to within 4 points. And these kids were amazing. Atop the course and celebrating another Gold Medal he could heard saying that he couldn’t make another run – no focus. So what does he do? To the delight of the crowd he takes a victory lap and not only does he record the highest score ever, a 48.4, but he also pulls off a Double McTwist 1260, another first, in the process. This was after he had already won the Gold!
Earlier in the day a 1.3 mile steep twisting sheet of ice, one-tenth of a second and a badly bruised shin stood between Lindsey Vonn and the first ever Gold Medal in Women’s Downhill for the U.S. That and the expectations of millions around the world. It appeared as if she was almost jumping out of her skin as she cleared the gate at the top of the course. Skiing on one and one-half legs she collapsed in a semi-hysterical state 1:44.19 later, .56 seconds faster than she needed to be to win the Gold. Her emotions of having met expectations for herself and millions were clearly visible.
Congratulations to these two unbelievable athletes on winning Olympic Gold Medals. American pride, spirit and determination was on full display yesterday in Vancouver.