I just dropped everything to write this entry because I am brimming with inspiration. I was watching the Men’s Olympic Figure Skating short program during my lunch and witnessed unbelievably shameless inspiration. The American skater Jeremy Abbott went down hard in the first few moments of his program. I have never seen such a fall at the Olympics…he slid over and into the boards. He was clutching his side and grasping at the boards as he struggled to get on his feet. But he did. He got back on his feet and skated an emotionally and physically breath-taking program. The announcers remarked that they have never seen such a brave and solid recovery.
Interestingly, Jeremy has a reputation for being emotionally frail as a performer. Perhaps that’s why he motioned in such a way as to suggest that his mind was blown after his program. What a gift? Kurt Browning remarked that Jeremy may not have done what he set out to do but he did something very special. Special indeed. I have seen many gold-winning Olympic programs and I don’t remember a single detail but I know that I will never forget Jeremy’s performance today. I believe that’s because it is more powerful to witness resilience than excellence.
Another notable point is that when Jeremy got up he could have argued with the judges about the situation and avoided potential deductions but he didn’t. I can’t help but think that’s because he felt he needed to keep skating. It seemed to me that nothing could have stopped him and perhaps it wasn’t even about the score for him at this point? Whatever the reason, the energy of his recovery, the fight, the emotion and exhilaration of having his fears realized and the opportunity to recover seemed to propel him. I’m so moved that he continued. I’m so in love with the fact that he did not ask to restart so there could be a seamless run. Instead he accepted that this major tumble was part of the story of his short program and it made it all the more powerful.
It’s interesting to note that a smaller fall would have been less memorable which serves as a reminder to me that often it’s the big mistakes that teach us the most and give us the greatest opportunity to find our passion and resilience.
Unfortunately, they don’t have a video online of the whole program yet but here’s a clip:
Great story, Lil! It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Two posts in four days? I like what you are doing. Keep it going!
Great article! Having two figure skating daughters, one with her university senior letter in figure skating, and the other, who skated Novice Pairs at Canadians in New Brunswick in the 80s, and short track speed skating internationally until the early 2000s, I have a good understanding and deep appreciation of the challenges skaters face. I completely agree with your comments on Jeremy Abbott. He overcame his fear and his shame, and triumphed with a demonstration of courage, strength of character, and tremendous growth in his soul by rising above adversity.
Thank you for your inspirational blog!