From Gold to Obscurity

Last night I was watching the Women’s Super-G downhill olympic ski event.

What struck me was that less than 1 second separated the top 13 finishers, and less than 2 seconds separated the top 24 finishers.

The gold medalist was just 0.01 seconds faster than the silver medalist, who was just 0.10 seconds faster than the bronze medalist.

What’s truly fascinating about this is that, on any given day, a coin flip may separate these world-class skiers.

On a single run, a fraction of a percentage in speed means the difference between olympic gold and obscurity.

There is so much to take away from this, but what really struck me was that every competitor turned in a performance that was nearly identical. Small differences along the way – the tightness of cornering, a tighter tuck with more aerodynamics, shifts in wind speed and direction – ultimately decided the outcome.

Could you watch this and definitively say that the gold medalist is the best Super-G skier in the world? No. Only that she turned in the best performance that day.

But you could say that the accumulation of the small differences between her run and every other competitor’s made the difference in that race.

Keep up the small wins. They pay off, even if you’re not an olympic gold medalist.