Posts Tagged ‘Franz Klammer’

I’m pretty excited because the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held tonight in Vancouver.  Cheri and I have both been Olympic junkies since we were children.  For both of us, it was really sparked by the 1972 Munich games which had great television coverage of the games.  Unfortunately, the horror and the  human drama of the eleven Israeli athletes who were taken hostage and eventually killed by Palestinian terrorists overshadowed the feats of Mark Spitz and Olga Korbut and the controversy of the USA/ USSR men’s basketball championship game which ended with the USA team having the victory gold ripped from their hands by a series of  incredible calls by officials, on and off the court.  To this day, their second place silver medals lay unclaimed in a Swiss vault.

The winter olympics over the years have yielded some of the most memorable moments for us.  There is, of course, the Miracle on Ice of the US men’s gold in hockey at the 1980 Lake Placid GamesTorvill and Dean’s transcendent ice dancing.  Eric Heiden, Apollo Ohno and Bonnie Blair’s exploits in speedskating, not forgetting the failure and redemption of skater Dan Jantzen.  There were the exploits of Eddie the Eagle, the Brit whose Olympic triumph came in the fact that he simply made it to the bottom of the hill each time he took off from the ski jump.

So many memories of triumph and failure.  For Cheri and me, the moment that crystallizes the Olympics into a single moment is the final run by Austrian Franz Klammer in the men’s downhill at the 1976 Innsbruck games.  Klammer was the hero of Austria and carried all their hopes for success in the games.  There may never have been an Olympic athlete with such high expectations placed on a single event.  A sizzling time had been put up on the board by a competitor and Klammer came to the line as the final skier.  With his homeland screaming and ringing cowbells, Klammer unleashed a performance that could be considered as the definition for walking the line between disaster and triumph.  From the very top, he skied with utter abandon.  He flailed and fought his way down the big hill, often off balance with one ski off the ground.  Somehow he made it to the line and Austria erupted when hiis winning time came up on the board. 

That was a triumph of Olympic proportion.

So, for the next couple of weeks we’ll be glued to the games, seeing if there will be a new lasting memory.  A big moment of triumph.  A big moment of failure.  A quiet moment of redemption.   It’ll all be there, I’m sure.

After all, it’s time for the Olympics.

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