The twitter sphere (and much of the figure skating world) has been ablaze with fiery comments over South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim, who despite giving a flawless performance at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, fell short of winning the gold to 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova from Russia.
Four years ago in Vancouver, a 19-year-old Yuna Kim won the gold medal by shattering records and giving arguably one of the greatest figure skating performances of all time. And even after sitting out the entire 2011-2012 season, Yuna Kim defied all odds and returned from her hiatus better than ever, medaling in every competition and eventually claiming her second World Championship title in 2013. So, “disappointment” over the judges’ scoring in Sochi is an understatement. “Outrage” is probably more like it, and I don’t think claims of a judging scandal (and here) are unfounded either.
But nothing I can say will add to the facts there are already there, and as scandalous as it is, I didn’t really want to talk about that today.
No, I think somewhere in here is a valuable life lesson. Among other things, it was a sobering reminder that you can be the best at something, but still not win all the time. We are outraged because the judges’ score didn’t validate something the rest of us already knew to be true: that Yuna Kim was the best even before she stepped on the ice in Sochi. Maybe she’s the best because she is already a gold medal winner, a record breaker, and a two-time World Champion. Or maybe she is the best because she captured hearts with her grace and elegance on the ice, because of her love of country and the opportunities she opened up for Olympians in Korea and the figure skaters she inspired around the world, because of her relentless sportsmanship and class, or because of the performances she gave her entire career despite the enormity of the burden she carried. She poured out her heart, body, and soul into her craft, and I really don’t think a second gold medal (as gratifying as that would have been) could have adequately motivated the performance she gave. What makes her a true legend is not the number of medals around her neck, but her devotion to things that matter — and it really showed in the way she skated.
The reminder for me is this. Some of us devote ourselves to fleeting, worldly things like money, recognition, or fame, while some of us are still “saving ourselves” until we find that most worthwhile thing worthy of our devotion. But when you find that one thing which is truly worthwhile, the one thing you are convinced is everlasting — which I think I have — how much joy and fulfillment awaits for those who devote their body, heart, and soul to it?
P.S. did anyone try googling Yuna Kim Sochi? 🙂