The Olympics are fun. I’m sure most of you know this already. What’s wrong with two weeks of athletes competing at the peak of their sports on the highest stage?
Well, of course, there are plenty of things wrong with the Olympics: the rampant corruption filling international sports, doping, wasting municipal money of the host city, the harming effect the Olympics have on the post-Olympic economy of these cities and, as I’ve written before, the disappointing lack of visibility for the Paralympics.
But that’s not the point. I don’t think it’s a problem to ignore the grimy underbelly of events, such as the Olympics and World Cup, and just have fun watching sports. These events are spectacles; they’re inspiring and exciting.
The best the Olympics has to offer was on full display in the men’s snowboard slopestyle event. Slopestyle is an awesome sport that includes ramps, rails and jumps to see which snowboarder can put together the best run. What makes the event even more enjoyable to watch is the names of the tricks. The winning jump was a backside triple cork 1440 — which is four full rotations and three flips while grabbing the board.
The event was won by 17-year-old Red Gerard — the youngest Olympic snowboarder to win gold, ever. Gerard, who just happens to be from a suburb of Cleveland a few towns over from mine, fell in his first two runs and neither of his scores broke 50, but on his third run he was flawless and went from last place to first place with a score of 87.16.
Could you imagine winning an Olympic gold medal at 17? That’s insane. It was also insane when Gerard was caught dropping an f-bomb on camera after he won. Gerard’s family enjoyed the victory by shotgunning beers at 8:30 a.m. Nice.
Gerard wasn’t the only feel good story in the slopestyle event. In March 2017, Canadian Mark McMorris was filming a snowboarding video in the woods near Whistler, British Columbia when he slammed into a tree at full force. McMorris had to wait hours for a helicopter to come airlift him to a Vancouver hospital.
McMorris fractured his jaw, left arm, ribs and pelvis, collapsed his left lung and ruptured his spleen. He was put in a medically induced coma while he recovered from his injuries.
Just under a year later, McMorris was ready for the Olympics. Being ready to compete would have been achievement enough; I know that if I had been him, I wouldn’t have been ready for the stress accompanying training for and competing in the Olympics.
But it wasn’t enough for McMorris, who finished in third. Eleven months after an accident that almost killed him, McMorris had a bronze medal around his neck.
McMorris and Gerard were two amazing stories in one event on the first weekend of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. The games go until Feb. 25, and I’m sure we’ll learn about and be inspired by many more athletes.