One thing I enjoy specifically about the Winter Olympics is that we get to see some great athletes from some of the smaller countries (particularly in Europe) that aren't powerhouse countries. I love to see breakout athletes from Austria, Kazakhstan, or somewhere else that doesn't get enough attention because they are great at winter sports. And here is also where I find hidden my other favorite part of the Olympics: Friendship.
The three athletes picture above are the three medalists from today's competition in the Men's normal hill ski jump: Kamil Stoch (Poland), Peter Prevc (Slovenia), and Anders Bardal (Norway). The were the last three to jump in the finals, they waited for each other in the same area at the bottom of the hill, and when Kamil Stoch secured the gold medal, the other two lifted him up on their shoulders and carried him around for a victory lap. They clearly know each other, have probably been seeing each other in competition and training for years. What a nice way to end and celebrate their Olympic event.
This does not appear to be the case in every sport, and it also appears that we, the Americans, could take a note. Many winter sports athletes from across the world train in the United States, for example, a lot of figure skating is done in Michigan, speed skating in Milwaukee, WI, and slope sports in a handful of spots in the usual ski states like Colorado or Utah. Some rivals and athletes train next to each other every day, and meet in competitions frequently. It is too bad that we don't see more support to push each other and bring each other along. I don't see a lot of other sports, (example, figure skating) or a lot of other Americans setting the example that these three ski jump athletes did today.
I am a patriot and a true sucker for national pride in Olympic sports, and I love to see any sportsmanship that is the true spirit of the Olympic games. Skaters hurting other skaters (ahem, Tonya Harding), people refusing their medals, or athletes who can't appreciate the experience or any medal color are not the true spirit. Well done, ski jumpers, well done. I can't wait to watch more sports that are dominated by competitive but friendly and supportive athletes. And I love watching people fly through the are strapped to a board.