The Olympic flame hadn’t even been lit. As the news poured across the wires, the world sat stunned. A 19-year old athlete, whose father had been a medal-winning olympian for the old Soviet Union, was gone. A horrible crash during a practice run on the Luge track had taken his young life. Shock ensued. Was it an eerie omen?
That same night, one of the four caldrons, that were set to light the Olympic flame during the Opening Ceremonies, malfuntioned. Wayne Gretsky, the great one, waited, wondering what move to make next.
The Outdoor Olympic Flame had issues too. At a press conference, a Canadian TV reporter inquired as to why the flame had been placed behind “a ratty-looking prison-camp fence.” Apparently, the Globe and Mail newspapers chimed in and referred to the new Olympic city as old Berlin.
If you aren’t aware, the flame is a pretty big deal. People come from all over the world to experience it. A spokeswoman for the organizing committee responded to the public fury and outcry, ” Perhaps we did underestimate the degree to which people would want to get close to it.”
The local paper addressed the head of the Vancouver Games: “Mr. Furlong, tear down this fence!”
But there was more.
20,000 standing-room only tickets for the snowboarding venue had to be voided. Fans had fallen between the bales of hay under the melting layers of “trucked-in” snow. They were assured refunds. But those who made the trek up the mountain anyway to see events, were met with blinding snow.
The Winter venue was taking quite a ribbing: “Welcome to the Vancouver Summer Olympics”.
Timing issues hit the biathlon events. A Swedish woman was held up at her start gate for 14 seconds, while two of the men started too early.
The word “incompetence” began echoing throughout the valleys below.
The competition schedule wasn’t fairing any better:
– The Men’s Super-Combined, in the mountains at Whistler, was postponed due to an overnight snowstorm.
– The Snowboardcross Finals were rescheduled as well.
– Women’s Downhill training, which had been postponed repeatedly earlier in the Olympics due to wet weather that ruined the snow–was canceled. Each day of delayed training gave multimedal favorite Lindsey Vonn, who had badly bruised her right shin on 2/5/10, time enough to heal. But for everyone else, the delays wore thin.
It didn’t stop there.
At the Luge Track, a spigot went off, spraying a section near the finish. The German racer waited two minutes before she was finally able to take her run.
At the speedskating venue, the resurfacing machine malfunctioned and left the ice in piles of slush and full of dips with water. A replacement Zamboni, specifically designed for the size of a speedskating oval, had to be hauled in from an entire province over in Calgary.
Then, during a free concert, a barricade collapsed sending nine people to the hospital. The concert was called off as well as the fireworks display.
All this, and it was only Day 5!!!
Vancouver landed the honor of becoming an Olympics venue years ago. Planning and preparation had been in the works for many, many months. But try as they might, things happen. Sometimes, the very people and places we count on just don’t come through as we hoped for or planned.
In fairness, it’s not just these ill-fated Winter Olympics of 2010 that experience trials and tribulation. You and I too, may have the best of intentions. We work earnestly for months, if not years, only to, at times, have the best laid plans fall at our feet like a shattered crystal goblet.
Should we plan? Yes. Work? You bet. Sometimes, however, our own personal efforts just aren’t enough. Outside factors intrude and we’re left holding the bag. We need to realize that life happens. And when it does, all will be watching to see what we do with the pieces. No matter who is at fault. Who we truly are will be known to all as they watch us either rise from the proverbial ashes or crawl under the pile of glass and cry.
It reminds me of a verse from the book of James: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit’. You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow…”
Just my thoughts.