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Winter Olympic training "message"

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  • #41
    Originally posted by denny View Post
    What comes across isn`t so much that there`s a double standard as much as there are at least two, maybe more, standards of "success".

    Some feel that "getting it done" is a worthy goal, in and of itself. When I was at the USET, working with Jack Le Goff, that was our mission. It worked, in the sense that we did get it done.

    Others feel that the price to pay is too high. That the sacrifices aren`t worth the rewards. That`s an ok standard, too, as long as it`s truly ok with the individual setting the standard.

    The problem is that it`s probably not usually possible to have it both ways, to lead a balanced life, and also stand on the podium.

    So it depends upon you. Which do YOU want. I can`t answer for you, nor you for me.


    Do I now, 35 years later, think it was worth it for me? Yes.

    Would I do it again if I could? Yes.

    But there are prices to everything. There`s a price for trying, and there`s also a price for not trying. It depends on you to decide which is the higher price, it seems to me.


    Honestly though...that's true with being "successful" or the top in most things in life...not just sports.
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

    Comment


    • #42
      For me the question is who do I want to be at the end of the day?

      Do I want to be a great athlete? Or do I want to be a great person?

      Being an equestrian athlete, and a great one at that, is a large part of who I am, but that's not everything to me.

      In an ideal world, raw talent and ability and determination and drive would = successful top athlete.

      In the real world, raw talent and ability and determination and drive only matter as much as your financial resources. It sucks, believe me, but that's reality.

      If I put 100% of who I am into horses (and I have) at some point I have to realize that that's not enough in this sport. I don't have the money.

      So I choose to be the best person I can be, and that includes doing everything I can do be the best rider and best horseman and best athlete I can be...but it also includes being a good friend, being a good family member, being a good employee, etc., all the important things in life alongside riding.

      I dream big. I would love to be an international level athlete. People have told me I could be one. But at the end of the day, that dream 95% won't come true. And being a good horseman - bringing along horses, helping educate others - and being a good person is just as noble a lifelong pursuit as being a top athlete.

      One gets recognition, one doesn't - but that doesn't make one any better than the other.

      To me, the important thing is doing one's best in everything. Not everyone can (nor should everyone) dedicate 100% of their life into being an athlete. But that doesn't mean one can't be a dedicated athlete in one's own right.
      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

      Comment


      • #43
        As a junior I was acquainted with a couple of equestrian Olympians and I must say the ones that made it to the Olympics had an un-nerving and unrelenting focus and obsession with making it. But watching them live on the razor edge striving for success with failure so close around the next corner seemed to be incredibly stressful and the sacrifices that they made did not inspire me to go for it. It takes a special person to follow through and find the right path. Support in terms of money, horses and training will help anyone - perhaps national organizations should look to how other national teams support/manage their athletes for some new ideas.

        Comment


        • #44
          Originally posted by OffTheHook View Post
          I was watching an interview with Apolo Ohno and he said something along the lines of:

          "Before you go to sleep each night, ask yourself this question: ‘Did you do everything you could today to be at your very best?’"

          Even if a rider had enough drive to want to ask themselves this question every night and had the time to be able to fit in the "four 2 hour work outs" everyday, mounted or otherwise, they still need the money and horse to back it up.

          Ditto what redlight said.
          I was struck--HARD--by the EXACT same moment in that interview. Who among us can answer that question in the affirmative, every single day, for the things we do that are important, not just our "sport"? Wow, not me.
          Click here before you buy.

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          • #45
            We are kidding ourselves if we don't think there is a wake of horses with injuries in the barns of many of these riders.

            Maybe someon early in their career with only 1 good horse, manages for that not to happen. let's look in Phillip or Buck's barn. a horse shows up, the only interest they have is whether or not it's going to be a 4 star horse. Some of them just don't hold up. I'm not knocking either of them they are brilliant rider, great horsmen and good guys, but that's the name of the game- whether you're Lindsay Vonn skiiing on bruised shins or finishing rolex with 3 shoes, resulting in a career-ending bowed tendon. With that kind of focus and goals, I think it's inevitable.

            Comment


            • #46
              Skiing & riding aren't that different

              I lived for more than a decade in a Colorado ski town with a winter sports training center that countless Olympians have funneled through -- in Vancouver alone, 17 athletes either were born or lived and trained in this one little town of 10,000. So I've witnessed Olympic-level ski training up close and personal.

              Truly, I see WAY more parallels than differences. In both sports (in any sport) there are countless degrees of skill and dedication. For the purposes of this thread, the Olympians are the top level in both respects. When I compare our Olympic three-day riders to these Olympic skiers, I see the same single-minded dedication.

              In both sports, there's a huge commitment to personal physical fitness at the upper levels. It's expected in skiing, but I've been very impressed in recent years to see how much emphasis top riders are putting on getting to the gym, dropping weight, cross-training, doing core, balance and strength work. (Maybe the best have been doing this stuff all along and I only just tuned into it, but I'm impressed nonetheless. It's definitely not just about hopping on horses for them.)

              In both sports, below that Olympic/elite level are the same sorts of divisions -- athletes good enough to compete internationally at the World Cup level but not quite good enough to make teams, athletes serious enough to campaign nationally but not go international, the Junior Olympics/Young Rider crew, and on down to the weekend warriors and just-for-fun participants.

              Long way around to my point, but I suspect, Denny, that you are contrasting the dedication shown by these Olympians to what you see from our young riders, or maybe the some of the hopeful youngsters who have been through your program earnestly thinking they'd be Olympians someday but without the drive and work ethic to really get them to that level. It's not fair to compare those two different levels of skill/commitment. Much like we've got juniors and Young Riders, skiing and snowboarding have their own group of Junior Olympians who *want* to see their names in lights but don't really have the gumption or the skill to actually get there.

              But the biggest similarity I saw and felt last night? The thrill of brilliance verging on disaster, and the way those girls had to wait at the top while the crashes were cleared, trying to get their heads right and think about what they needed to do instead what could happen. It reminded me so, so much of cross-country, waiting in the warm-up way past your time because a horse is hurt or a rider is down, or just listening to the penalties and falls over the loudspeaker and trying not to let that get to you.
              And I felt for the German woman who skiied too tentatively at the end. I've been in her shoes many, many times.
              I evented just for the Halibut.

              Comment


              • #47
                But the biggest similarity I saw and felt last night? The thrill of brilliance verging on disaster, and the way those girls had to wait at the top while the crashes were cleared, trying to get their heads right and think about what they needed to do instead what could happen. It reminded me so, so much of cross-country, waiting in the warm-up way past your time because a horse is hurt or a rider is down, or just listening to the penalties and falls over the loudspeaker and trying not to let that get to you.
                And I felt for the German woman who skiied too tentatively at the end. .
                my thoughts last night EXACTLY!!!! Thanks, NeverTime!
                ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

                Comment


                • #48
                  Some thoughtful posts here from people who have been there, or been near
                  elite athletes.

                  I personally relate somewhat to what pigiponiis said, but perhaps her choice of words from "good person vs. good athlete" should have been re-worded
                  "well rounded person vs. good athlete".

                  To be at the top requires total dedication (and lots of money and support).
                  It is hard to have a life outside sport and this commitment has to come from within.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    Was anyone else both touched and a little bit horrified at Lindsey Vonn's total meltdown after she won? It pointed out the pressure she's lived with for so long. For many athletes, that pressure is addictive just as teetering on the edge of disaster is. Otherwise, why would they do it?

                    One who has the Olympic dream has to decide whether he wants it badly enough to sacrifice everything else in life to attain that peak. It's a rough road!

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by flutie1 View Post
                      Was anyone else both touched and a little bit horrified at Lindsey Vonn's total meltdown after she won? It pointed out the pressure she's lived with for so long. For many athletes, that pressure is addictive just as teetering on the edge of disaster is. Otherwise, why would they do it?

                      One who has the Olympic dream has to decide whether he wants it badly enough to sacrifice everything else in life to attain that peak. It's a rough road!

                      I thought part of that meltdown also had to do with the horrific wreck she watched just afterwards......that was a really really bad fall from a very top person......lots of emotions ripping at a person at once.
                      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        I love sport.

                        I love all aspects of sport - as probably most of us who grew up with "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" ringing in their ears - competition is an important part of who I am. I am competitive at just about everything that I do (it's a bit of a sickness, I have to admit) and it drives people who know me well a bit crazy.

                        There is a certain person who pushes themselves beyond their existing personal limits to something different. This might be in riding, skiing, housekeeping, science or even drinking. Certainly, not all of it is healthy. And it can leave someone a bit unfulfilled in the end.

                        I understood Denny's first post to be tossing the question out among us..."who now has this kind of drive..." Maybe the answer is some, maybe none.

                        Ohno's daily affirmation is spot on and I love Thames Pirate's reply.

                        The bottom line is, if you want a team that has a chance of winning in any sport (and really at any level), every single member needs to have the desire to push themselves beyond their current level of comfort. Not everyone is cut out to do that.

                        Comment


                        • #52
                          Originally posted by eventamy View Post
                          If you look at a guy like Shaun White though, snowboarding is not just his focus. He crosstrains and competes in skateboarding too, which is similar but not the same. If the summer Olympics had skateboarding we would see him there too. He's one of those lucky few that have found his passion, what he truly loves and enjoys, and happens to be very naturally talented and a lot insane (as these really high level athletes have to be!).
                          Actually, they were making comments at the most recent "X Games" that Shaun did give up skateboarding to really focus on his snowboarding. And from his performance last night? It shows. Though he was stellar before... he's even better now.

                          I'm not sure how I feel about this subject. I agree that it's different because an actual living breathing animal is involved.

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            Both athletes told me that when you put everything you have, your heart & soul into something - doing what everyone says an athlete at that level should do, must do, physically and mentally, and the hard work "will pay off" - but then it doesn't - it can be completely crushing. It takes huge strength of character to motivate oneself and push towards the pinnacle, and I think a failure at that level can hurt that type of athlete at a bigger magnitude than what we mere mortals might experience when we have a disappointment, but have many other aspects of our lives to focus on.
                            And this is one of the REASONS that the term "elite" means "rare". Maybe we all have that grain inside us that can blossom into greatness, but SO many things have to line up for it to happen to any one individual. You need time, the mental part, the physical part, AND luck AND timing AND for the weather to be right AND (in the case of horses) all four shoes to stay on AND the buckle on the reins not to break at the worst moment, etc. etc. Some of it is under our control, and some of it is not.

                            Which is why I always feel badly for people who post that their "main goal" is to "ride in the Olympics" because the odds are just so far against any one individual, and that might have NOTHING to do with inherent talent or being a "good person".

                            I'd think "riding successfully at the Advanced level" or "making it around Rolex" would be an incredible goal for anyone, but you rarely hear that--it's always "The Olympics" for some reason. I love the Olympics, but don't see it as trumping a good career at the upper levels with multiple horses and lots of success at more humble venues.

                            But as many have said--to each his/her own.
                            Click here before you buy.

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                            • Original Poster

                              #54
                              A coach`s insight----

                              This is an insightful comment that my wrestling coach at Dartmouth used to tell his athletes 50 years ago. I won`t get it in his exact words, but I think I can give the gist of it.

                              "If you guys give everything you`ve got to this program, that`s no guarantee that you will make it."

                              "But if you don`t give everything you`ve got to this program, that IS a guarantee that you won`t make it."
                              http://www.tamarackhill.com/

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                Couldn't agree with you more, Deltawave. My goals are usually one to two levels up from what I am currently doing. I have actually been quite surprised at how well this has worked out for the most part. Maybe the disappointments aren't so big (and the goals aren't so distant) - or perhaps a rock-climbing analogy would work here. When you are reaching for something close to your grasp - if you miss, it's not such a huge fall, AND it's a bit easier to try reaching for it again, than if what you are reaching for is near-impossible to grasp.
                                Blugal

                                You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

                                Comment


                                • #56
                                  Originally posted by SEPowell View Post
                                  Can riders be trainer-dependent and also be adept at taking risks? If you equate the word risk to to the word problem the question becomes: Can a trainer-dependent rider be an independent problem solver?

                                  There's some food for thought.
                                  Hey - isn't this the same question as, "does Dressage ruin the Cross Country horse?"

                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    Maybe we need something along the lines of the old USET training center. Some have referenced athletes they knew who trained at their sport's Olympic training center. We don't have this in equestrian sports anymore. We are all so spread out and there is no single system used to produce Olympic caliber riders. Perhaps if there was a training center for equestrian you would have a pool of talented riders who lived and trained together and stabled their horses together. They would all be coached by one or more selected "Olympic" coaches kind of like a Bela Karoli (spelling?). Maybe he's not the best example but you get my drift.

                                    I don't know if this would work in this day and age because there are so many schools of thought regarding training but I would think maybe it would be an enticement for young riders to make the commitment. To be hand picked to train at the "Olympic Training Center" I think would give confidence to the riders and parents knowing they were going to get the best training available.
                                    Five Star Tack

                                    Comment


                                    • #58
                                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post

                                      Which is why I always feel badly for people who post that their "main goal" is to "ride in the Olympics" because the odds are just so far against any one individual, and that might have NOTHING to do with inherent talent or being a "good person".

                                      I'd think "riding successfully at the Advanced level" or "making it around Rolex" would be an incredible goal for anyone, but you rarely hear that--it's always "The Olympics" for some reason. I love the Olympics, but don't see it as trumping a good career at the upper levels with multiple horses and lots of success at more humble venues.

                                      Back when the OG format was four team and two individuals:

                                      I cannot remember the exact situation I heard this from but a rider was asked what her goal was and the response was not an unsurprising "to ride in the Olympics"..a la International Velvet.

                                      The response from the clinician/coach/trainer (who ever it was) said "that's great, but you do realize that it is JUST four horses, every four years, and for four days. That is a very small time frame/moment in time to wrap up all your hopes and dreams"
                                      Do the math and calculate the odds.

                                      Whilst this should never discourage someone from that goal, I do think one must keep that bit of common sense and perspective in their head as well.

                                      I am reminded of a quote from Harry Potter:

                                      "it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"

                                      Comment


                                      • #59
                                        I used to keep this hanging in my office and I think it really speaks to the way things were when Denny is talking about the past great ones.

                                        What It Takes to be Number 1

                                        Vince Lombardi


                                        "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.


                                        "There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that's first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don't ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.


                                        "Every time a football player goes to play his trade he's got to play from the ground up — from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That's O.K. You've got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you've got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he's never going to come off the field second.


                                        "Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization — an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win — to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don't think it is.


                                        "It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there — to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules — but to win.


                                        "And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.


                                        "I don't say these things because I believe in the "brute" nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious."

                                        - V. Lombardi

                                        It seems to be that, at least in Eventing, the sentiment is not "I have to win" or "I have to beat XX" like it is in other sports. We are happy with doing our personal best whether it gets you first place or not and are happy with the little things like breaking 30 in dressage or going double clear on a sticky horse, etc. Maybe that is a detriment to our sport, but I think it speaks to the character of our players. FWIW, I would rather have character than a ribbon, so maybe that makes me a loser, but I'm fine with that.
                                        Rhode Islands are red;
                                        North Hollands are blue.
                                        Sorry my thoroughbreds
                                        Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

                                        Comment


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by denny View Post
                                          Not to say our "kids" don`t "want it", but I just don`t have the impression it`s quite the same willingness to work their guts out.

                                          Convince me that I`m wrong, because I hope I am---
                                          There are kids out there working their guts out in eventing just as in other olympic sports. However, if they are successful, they will be put down by fellow eventers as being privileged and spoiled, because obviously their parents funded them and bought them expensive horses. So, instead of drawing attention to themselves, they quietly continue in their dedication to the sport knowing one day they will be the great rider's of the future.

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