Tragedy, a crash landing, and a pants phenomenon

Joannie Rochette courtesy Skate Canada

By Nathan White

Going into Sunday, the most important story coming out of the Vancouver Olympics was supposed to be tonight’s hockey game between Canada and the United States.

The death of Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette’s mother Thérèse, however, reminds us there are things far more important than sports competition.

Imagine being on the cusp of fulfilling your dream to compete in the Olympics in your home country after dedicating years of your life to the gruelling demands of training. The parents who pushed you, sacrificed for you and supported you have just arrived to watch this dream come true.

Then, suddenly, the worst news imaginable.

Amazingly the 24-year-old reigning world silver medallist has said she will still compete when the short program rolls around Tuesday. Some people may question her decision, as they did when legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre decided to suit up for the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football one day after his father died in 2003. To me, it shows the incredible determination of these athletes, who work so hard for a brief moment on the biggest stage. My thoughts and prayers are with Rochette and her family, and I hope her performance will be a fitting tribute to her mother, who is a big part of why Rochette has made it this far. While her mother won’t be there to watch, I support Rochette’s decision to compete.


Another story from Vancouver was Canadian skier Christopher Del Bosco’s performance in the inaugural ski cross.

Del Bosco’s late – and spectacular – crash in the final cost him a bronze medal, or possibly better. But I don’t consider it a failure. Del Bosco has been given a second chance on life and sport.  A dual citizen whose substance abuse problems got him kicked off the U.S. team and nearly killed him, it was an achievement just for Del Bosco to return to an elite level and advance to the final.

Although he was a medal hopeful and his result has been called “disappointing” and “unlucky,” to see him going for it on that last jump, and crashing in a blaze of glory made me proud, medal or no medal.


If you haven’t seen it yet, more than a quarter million people have joined a Facebook group dedicated to the Norwegian Olympic Curling Team’s Pants.


~ by Nathan White on February 21, 2010.

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