I could be talking about the Canada / Russia hockey game, which was a great game. Instead, today I had the opportunity to see a display of endurance and athleticism up close, and that was truly inspirational.
I was at the mens' 4 x 10 km Cross-Country Relay Race at Whistler Olympic Park.
Canada skied a gritty, tenacious race. The race was two legs of classic skiing and the final two legs of skating style. Our men had their best finish in history with a 7th place showing. This was no embarassment - it was a true accomplishment. Our anchor, George Grey, outkicked Russia and Italy at the end, in front of a loud and boisterous crowd.
Truly athletic efforts were made by Marcus Hellner, of Sweden, for the gold, and by Petter Northug, of Denmark, for the silver.
Hellner took off on a climb with 3 km left and created a 15 gap from the other two skiers in his pack. Talk about gutsy....breaking free on the uphill. This was the margin of victory.
Northug wasn't one of those left behind by Hellner. Instead, he was in the second group, made up 37 seconds on his leg and caught the first group by the final 500 m. He then outkicked the Czech and the Frenchman for the silver. Truly inspirational.
But what made this event even better was the fact that I was right at the finish line, in the front row. I saw the desire and determination on the faces of those who won the race for the finish and also, the faces of those who were beat. Giving up was not an option for the Swede or the Norwegian. Grey of Canada refused to let the Russian and Italian beat him to the finish, once they reached the stadium. His determination broke their spirit.
There is no doubt that I loved Canada's hockey win over Russia today, or Clara Hughes' gutsy bronze in the 5,000 m speed skating, or the womens' 3,000 m short track relay silver, or the one-two gold and silver finish in womens' bobsleigh, but to me, this Cross-Country race demonstrated Olympic competition at it's best.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone