It’s a special time in sports, when teams and athletes assemble from across the world to test their mettle on snow and ice.
Such times are loaded with individual accomplishments, like ski jumpers breaking world records and ice skaters stunning judges with the perfect axel. And individual teams ̶ think hockey, curling, and bobsledding ̶ will have moments too.
But there will be other moments that aren’t so much about the individual or team, but about what people can do for each other. Even when they are the competition.
Sometimes it’s just a display of graciousness. Like the Swiss cross-country skier who took first place, then waited 28 minutes to shake hands with last place finisher.
Or it could be making sure a competitor has a fair shot, such as when the Russian biathlon team let the German team use its grinder to prepare their skis after the German machine broke.
Sometimes such moves come mid-contest.
Indeed, the last time this international contest was held, a Canadian coach gave a Russian cross-country skier, who had an equipment failure mid-race, a replacement ski so he could finish the contest.
That echoed a similar occurrence eight years earlier, when a Norwegian coach gave a cross-country ski pole to a Canadian competitor whose own pole snapped mid-race. Since Canada edged out Norway in that particular contest, some believe that selfless act was to the point of being self-defeating.
"I was just helping a girl who was in big trouble. If you saw her, you would do the same,” the Norwegian coach told The Washington Post.
That attitude is indicative of the overriding value people, even competitors, put on mutual support and looking out for one another.
“Once the competition starts, and until it finishes, we are rivals. But beyond that we are all part of the biathlon family,” said a Russian biathlon team official when asked about aiding the Germans.
MassMutual salutes such instances of support on the field of competition. And at this year’s contest, we look forward to seeing more.
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