With all the uncertainty in our country and the world, gun control, the economy, all that stuff, what I’m about to cover may seem trivial. I often spend time thinking of trivial things though, so it should come as no surprise.
I was saddened this afternoon to hear that Caleb Moore, the snowmobile rider who was terribly injured while competing in the Winter X Games in Aspen, passed away today. If you haven’t seen film of the wreck, you may not want to. It was a terrible example of a trick gone horribly wrong. He was attempting either a back flip or a double but under rotated badly. The skis of his sled dug into the snow and flipped the machine over on top of him. There was bleeding around his heart and a brain injury which is not surprising..having a 400 pound machine land on you can’t be any fun. My sympathy goes out to his friends and family in their time of grief.
Reflecting on this, I’m left wondering: How much is enough? We see examples every day of athletes and performers trying to do that special trick…that extra twist or flip. It was apparent in the most recent Winter and Summer Olympics particularly in the figure skating and gymnastics competition.
Routine after routine by both male and female gymnasts failed. They tried to get that extra height, that extra rotation, the extra twist. In doing so, the results of the competition were largely based not on which athlete did the best but rather, which one did less badly. All of them fell or stepped out of bounds or took several extra steps on their dismounts. In the end it was not entertaining to watch.
The figure skaters are guilty of the same thing. I remember the days of the Double Axle and Double Salkow. Skaters like Dorothy Hamel and Peggy Fleming captured our hearts not because of the difficulty of their tricks but because they were simply flawless in their execution. We marveled at Nadia’s perfect 10 for the same reasons. Her routines were difficult but no more so than those of her competitors. She simply performed them without error.
And now the never ending push to get one more flip, a little more distance. The desire to “Go Big or Go Home” has cost a young man his life. Freak accident you say? Maybe…but in the very same competition Caleb’s brother suffered a separated pelvis when landing a trick. They are just trying to do too much.
I’m not sure how everyone else feels but I, for one, would much rather see routines with lower degrees of difficulty performed better than what we’ve seen lately. I don’t care to see someone attempt a trick that’s “never been done in competition” with the knowledge that it will be successful only 10% of the time. Perhaps it’s time proficiency plays a more important role than inventiveness. I’m tired of seeing 10 out of 10 fail and have the winner be the one that failed the least.
Clint Eastwood, in the role of Dirty Harry, said “A man’s got to know his limitations.” In this case, truer words were never spoken. If Caleb Moore hadn’t tried so hard to Go Big, perhaps he would have been able to Go Home. RIP Caleb.