Sometimes I come across a story and marvel at how they made it happen. For this one, someone had to pitch the concept: The New York Times should dig into and try to understand the role fear plays in the minds of the winter olympic athletes. The response: take a video crew, writers, audio engineers, and a designer. Go interview a bunch of athletes about their relationship with fear, show what it looks and feels like, and make this come to life in a way that ignites the senses. God bless whoever pitched this idea, and kudos to the team that brought it to life.
More so than the Summer games, the winter olympics has a high concentration of very dangerous sports. Sports that go high, go very fast, and can lead to violent impact. Halfpipe snowboard and skiing (23 feet), aerial skiing, luge, bombled, downhill skiing, speedskating, and many more. When things go wrong in these sports, it can be deadly.
What I love is this mixture of video, audio, and writing to try to capture fear. You read the story, you then hear from athletes, you then see the kind of injuries they are talking about and just what recovery looks like after one of these major injuries.
Fear, I learned, is a very basic survival instinct. It fires in the most primal portion of the brain – the amygdala, which is why it’s so hard to control. In other words, for thousands of years, fear kept our ancestors alive, and that’s exactly what it’s trying to tel these athletes when the are about to do something really dangerous.
Of all the quotes from this story, I can’t forget this description of fear from a pair of world-class skiers:
“There have been times that races have been canceled, and I’ve been relieved, 100 percent,” American ski racer Erik Arvidsson said. “Because I was scared as hell, and I needed another day to gather myself.”
Even the world’s top male skier this season is not immune.
“You get kind of an ache in your legs, your knees, and you feel like you lose control over your body,” Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway said. “You can feel it right away when you’re pushing out at the start. You want to push 100 percent, but then your mind kicks in and holds you back, and you can only push out, like, 85 percent, 90 percent. And then you know something is wrong.”
Every one of these athletes are scared, and everyone one of them can’t deny how great it feels when everything is hitting in there respective sports.
And then they get to profiles like Millie Knight, a Paralympic skier, on what it’s like to ski with 5% of her vision. She and the New York Times worked together to create a replica of what it looks like to ski with her vision, and it’s pretty incredible.
What a brilliant idea: let’s show people what it’s like to ski with 5% of normal vision. Such a great project. I highly recommend everyone checking it out. – PAL
Source: “What Scares the World’s Most Daring Olympians”, The New York Times (02/02/22)
Homage to Outdoor Rinks
The Star Tribune ran a particularly Minnesota story this morning: it’s a collection of some of the coolest homemade outdoor rinks around the state. Of my five siblings, four of their yards feature a rink. Some folks have really taken the rinks to another level. From this largely dad obsession has come a growing cottage industry of home rink supplies like plastic boards, custom size tarps to put under the ice, netting, and so on. It’s easy for me to smile when I look at these rinks, watch the videos, and most of all hear the sounds of outdoor hockey.
What’s missing from this story is the understated, quirky, work-with-what-you-got backyard rinks with a fire pit I remember spending so many hours playing on. Sertich’s rink with the big tree that you could use as a bit of a pick on a defender. Elm’s mini rink in Falcon Heights just big enough for 2-2 – these rinks are just as much a part of the spirit of MN’s outdoor rinks as these crazy setups featured in this story. – PAL
Source: “At home on the ice,” Rachel Hutton, photos by Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune (02/05/22)
Video of the Week
Just a reminder of how cool this dunk contest was…
Song of the Week
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