Alone on a Hill

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The Olympics. The pummeling Olympics. 

Mikaela Shiffrin failed to finish her second ski race in the Olympics yesterday, slipping, sliding, skidding after five seconds of her slalom run. This came two days after crashing early in her giant slalom race. 

The greatest of all time has stumbled. As all the greats do. Stumbled and crashed in front of the world. She sat on the hill, next to the plastic mesh boundary fence, the heels of her red ski boots jammed into the man-made snow, bracing. Skis off, angled across the hill. Poles impotent at her sides, lonely teammates. Knees bent, arms folded, head bowed across her arms. Disbelief, disappointment, deflation. I guess. It’s hard to know what goes through an athlete’s mind when failure strikes. A brief strike of failure for the star alpine skier. This won’t define her. She’s etched in stone, no matter what happens this week. But she can’t see that in this moment.

I think of Dan Jansen. Simone Biles. Lindsey Jacobellis. And all the other athletes who have lost, who have won, who have picked themselves up time after time, who have given it their all, in front of all of us. The public accomplishments and the private consequences.  

Sean is trying to write every day, for more from the Inside Rail, check out the blog’s main page.