Tonight, I saw Sasha Cohen do that in the free skate of women's figure skating. Yeah, I know, I know, there are many who don't think figure skating is a 'real sport' and there are others who are put off by the completely obnoxious and incomprehensible commentators (I can't believe the number of times I heard them GASP and then NOT SAY WHY); but when there are some competitors in the 4 minute free that end up unable to do things, obviously because they've used everything their legs could give them and they put themselves, on blades, on ice, in positions I'll never reach even on plain ground, I'll give 'em the benefit of that doubt, at least. A man can run a mile in under four minutes, to go full bore for that whole time has got to be hard.
Thing is that I'd just watched three or four women before and after Sasha just be technically crisp and clear in function, but not *beautiful* in form. When Sasha started, she had a really bad warmup from the comments Scott made. She had a leg bandaged from an earlier injury and she seemed to be favoring it somehow. Then, nearly as soon as she started her program, she fell on both of her first two Big Jumps, the ones that were supposed to set up the basis of all her scoring for the rest of the program. As far as the commentators were concerned and as far as anyone could see, she was pretty much completely out of the medals race. Period. No way to get gold, and unlikely to even mount the podium.
The fascinating and marvelous thing was to see her, after those two falls, visibly just shrug. To know that she was going to 'fail' so far as medals, but she was going to give it her all anyway. To skate as perfectly, expressively, and purposefully as possible, just to do it right. And she did. Beautifully. Gorgeous, each extension to the full, each sway and timed motion exact, each position held solid and complete, and each of the following jumps not only executed, but finished with grace and a smile. I cried at that brave display. Of going and still doing the best she could possibly do when there seemed no chance of success.
That I'll remember for a very long time.
Yeah, yeah. Tomorrow's paper will have the fact that she won silver with her brave display. There were other 'clean' performances, one technically perfect. There was one other who had a fall, and even I could see that she skated more sloppily and with less care after her 'failure'. So Sasha's courage was rewarded, but even if it had not, I would have remembered being able to witness her efforts.