Ask someone what the Olympics are all about, and you’re bound to get a set of abstract responses that range from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous. But yesterday, an American mogulist gave us all a resounding, concrete answer: world-class athletes parlaying their talent, drive and dedication to put on an incredible show for the world, regardless of how much hardware they take home.
Jonny Moseley didn’t win a medal with his awe-inspiring “Dinner Roll” jump, which entailed the athlete finagling his body virtually parallel to the ground and performing two side rolls, the first with his skis crossed, the second with them parallel. He nailed the landing on the jump no other athlete dare try. After his run, he immediately went over to celebrate with the heavily American crowd, who chanted his name even before his run, based on his reputation for having a flare for the dramatic.
Mosely won a collective “wow” from his fellow competitors, television commentators, and the entire nation.
What he didn’t get was a medal-winning score from the judges. The revolutionary jump that was perfect in every way, but this wasn’t reflected by its score. While his 26.78 mark was best at the time of his performance, Moseley ended up fourth, behind Finland’s Janne Lahtela who took the gold, fellow American Travis Mayer (silver), and France’s Richard Gay (bronze).
Even Lahtela gave props to his competitor.
“It’s a great jump, no doubt about that,” Lahtela told the Associated Press. “But you need a lot more than one jump to win the competition.”
But one jump was all it took to capture first place in the hearts of the fans.
And Moseley didn’t need another medal — he got his gold four years ago in Japan.
No, Moseley was in Salt Lake (actually Park City, the venue for the moguls) for one reason only — to inspire the crowd.
“I thought I stuck two sweet jumps today,” Moseley said. “That was my personal goal, to come out here and put on a good show.”
And by doing that, he showed us what the Olympics are all about–
Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee has no idea as to what these Salt Lake City Games are specifically about. The IOC is holding their collective noses in the air once again, complaining that the Opening Ceremonies were too patriotic and United States-centric.
If it were any other year, under any other set of circumstances, I may have conceded that the IOC had a point. But just five months removed from the tragic events of Sept. 11, how many other countries could have displayed the resolve of the U.S. in welcoming so many countries from around the world (including members of President Bush’s “axis of evil”) with open arms onto its soil? And how may could have the strength to supply more troops to provide security in Salt Lake City — not only for the safety of American citizens, but for the protection of everyone involved with the Games — than are fighting in Afghanistan?
Since September, sporting events have, albeit in small ways, instilled Americans with patriotism and made us proud of the country we live in. The Super Bowl halftime show and thrilling World Series are but two examples of how U.S. citizens have celebrated pride in our country. The Opening Ceremonies showed the world that America still stands tall.