Saturday, March 11, 2006

Selflessness at the Olympics (No, Seriously)

When Canadian skier Sara Renner's pole broke during a medal competition, she found an unlikely savior:

Some observers have taken to referring to the Turin Games as the Me Olympics, and it’s hard to argue.

An American snowboarder lost a gold medal because she felt the need to showboat at the end.

An U.S. speedskater declined to congratulate a teammate for finishing first.

After one of Bode Miller’s many failures in the mountains, he said, "At least now I don’t have to go all the way to Turin" for the medals ceremony. Yeah, that would have been a pain.

Into this occasional mess stepped Bjoernar Hakensmoen, 36. He is Renner’s mystery man and the unsung hero of these games.

"I saw a girl in trouble," he said.

So he handed her a pole. Perfectly natural, the human thing to do. Except, there’s this: Hakensmoen is the coach of the Norwegian team.

Norwegians are crazy about cross-country skiing. It’s their national sport, and Norway had a team in the race.

The Canadians went on to win the silver medal. The Norwegians finished fourth, nine seconds out of third place.
The best part: Norwegians aren't pissed, and Canadians are compassion-bombing the Embassy with thank-yous. Money quote from the coach:
"If you win, but don’t help somebody when you should have, what kind of win is that?" he said.
Good question: what, indeed? What do all of the medals in the world amount to if you're still driven by desire, the wonderful clarity of your mind eclipsed by self-absorption?

Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. Hakensmoen.

(Thanks to infinisri of the KenWilber list for the pointer)


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