Athlete Blog: Regan Lauscher
Posted Thursday, December 24, 2009 12:15 PM ET
As I woke up the other morning and headed to the store for my morning java, I felt like I had stepped inside the brush marks of a Thomas Kinkade Christmas painting.
Colorful bulbs proudly stood at attention along the eaves while their twinkling counterparts playfully twisted their way around frozen tree trunks and bended branches. Pancake sized snowflakes seemed to fall in suspended hesitation as a cross-country skiing duo glided effortlessly past me. The only thing audible was my icy exhale and the crunch of my 8.5's imprinting their aggressive treads onto the airy snow.
The picturesque scene meant one thing - mid-way point in the season had arrived.
And for Christmas this year, all I begged of the jolly stout man up north was to be named to the 2010 Olympic roster.
Well I must have made the nice list or he's employed some seriously crafty elves up there because on December 19th, I was officially named to the team. Along with my nine teammates, I will wear our beloved Maple Leaf and fight for our honor at the five-ring affair in February.
Relief washed over me. I mean, it's a war out there. Making it to the Olympics is running a minefield marathon.
The reality is, it's always bittersweet.
Kinda like planning a wedding.
At first blind jubilation - you can't wait to start being draped in dresses and coordinating colors. Soon, you realize just how much work there really is. You push through the mundane details that relentlessly nag you and stay focused on the bigger picture. Then it hits you that you can't possibly invite everyone you know to share your special day...some people unavoidably get cut. You make sacrifices. The big day finally arrives and after the lifelong commitment made in less than five minutes and the ensuing formal dance party, it's over.
It's full of surprises, let-downs and excitement. It's invigorating and draining all at once
In the past few months, I have had front row tickets to the Olympic showdown.
Two of my own teammates faced off in a battle royale for the third and final spot on our men's team. And after a series of three race-offs, the only thing that separated the victor from the defeated was hair-splitting thousandths.
Even after three Olympics, it ceases to amaze me that such a normally insignificant amount of time can all of a sudden mean the difference between an Olympic jacket and a plane ticket home.
I mean, winning and losing by that much is almost as random as being handed that lucky 'roll-up-the-rim' coffee cup that declares you the new owner of some SUV instead of the one that politely asks you to "please try again".
But when it comes to coffee, you get your next chance a few hours later at your coffee break. For us, that chance isn't anywhere in sight for the next four years.
And it happens on every team, in every discipline, in every sport.
I guess it's one of those things that make it so special to be an Olympian. You made through the gauntlet of the utmost physical and emotionally demanding challenges you will probably ever have to face.
And while a part of you starts celebrating your own personal triumphs, the other part of you is heart wrenched for the ones left behind. Because the simple truth is, there isn't any difference in the passion, drive, work ethic or dedication between the ones who 'make it' and ones who don't.
The investment is equal, the return isn't.
And like in life, sometimes it's fair and sometimes it's not.
Even if you manage to secure your spot in the game, there is nothing to stop a possible injury from taking you right back out of it.
Just look at our Alpine team who has recently sustained some serious blows to their team roster.
As I stared at the facts and weighed in on the evidence, I really couldn't help but wonder who, in their right minds, would put themselves through all of this?
A smile broadened across my face. We would.
I'm often asked what I think it is that makes Olympians special. And to be honest, I didn't really think we were. But all of a sudden, the answer seemed more clear.
Even though we know the stakes are high and the success rate is precarious, we don't waver. We try no matter what. And when things go bad, we try a little harder. I'm not sure we're any braver than anyone else, maybe we're just less afraid of losing. We don't know what will happen, but we're still willing to find out.
But in the end, no-one's invincible. Life can strike at any time and all we can do is prepare for it.