As I watch the Olympics, with all of the coverage and hype, I find myself wondering - does everyone really think that this massive media and money frenzy is all these athletes do? Do they realize that this single event every 4 years is just one in a continuum of high level events? One stop in a journey that can last decades?
Take freestyle skiing for example. Starting in early December, all of the top drawer athletes had between 4 and 5 high level competitions to choose from leading up to the Olympics. The same weekend as the Olympics, there is another major freestyle ski event happening - a NorAm event at Val St. Come in Quebec. The competitors at this event could realistically be at the 2018 winter Olympics!
After the Olympics, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association website lists a total of 19 high level events scheduled before the end of the season!
Below this level, there are provincial and regional level events also happening all year. In fact, this very same weekend that the Olympic mogul events are starting, the BC Freestyle Ski Association is running a Timber Tour event at Tabor Mountain outside of Prince George.
In 30 below weather, 12, 13 and 14 year old freestyle hopefuls are hitting mogul runs built exactly the way they are at the Olympics. They are riding a slopestyle course, with rails and jumps, and spinning and grabbing as best they can. They are competing with the same passion and talent that is highlighted at the Olympics - just not the same high skill level (yet).
While the Olympics highlight and showcase the athletes and bring their skills, passions and talents to the masses, they (the athletes) don't just magically disappear and then reappear four years later.
No - they are working year round - giving everything they have - competing with the same athletes we see at the Olympics - starting from as young as 8 years old. This massive, hyped event is but one stop, albeit a big one, on the journey for these passionate and talented people.
So, celebrate them. Enjoy the games. Watch the spectacle. But maybe, if you can remember, look up the competition schedule at your local ski hill, ice rink, curling rink or tae kwon do club. See if the BC Winter Games (if you live in BC), Canada Winter Games of one of the many World Cup level events in many sports is coming to a venue near you. If it is - go out and support the athletes. Cheer them on. Witness their passion.
It doesn't just have to be once every four years.