In Learning from Legends

Can you imagine going to the Olympics as a favored athlete, only to let a few mistakes in the qualifiers keep you from even competing? This is exactly what happened to Hannah Kearney – the freestyle skier who’s notorious for wearing flowers braided into her hair and helmet – four years ago at the 2006 Torino Olympics, which made her recent gold medal win in Vancouver that much sweeter.

A skier since age two – and freestyler since age 7 – Kearney’s dream-dashing disqualification at Torino left her devastated. The only good that came of it, she realized in hindsight, was her unfaltering motivation and commitment to reach her dream. Kearney took all the disappointment she felt after Torino and channeled it into her skiing, which drove her to improve her performance and even helped her overcome a torn knee ligament.

You would think that, for Kearney, heading off to the Vancouver Olympics would’ve been intimidation at its finest, but, in a recent television interview, she said that her trainer gave her a card beforehand that recounted all the hours of practice, all the moguls and all the jumps. As she prepared to compete in the Vancouver games, she knew that this time she was ready. 

In a post-victory interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kearney said of her journey, “Everything happens for a reason. If I had known I was going to win a gold medal four years ago, I wouldn’t have cried so much. . . . But that’s part of what got me here today.”

Congratulations to Hannah and all of the other amazing athletes who are making their dreams come true in Vancouver!

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