Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My Neighbor is Skating in the Olympics

Yeah, yeah...I know. The Olympics has become this huge, oversized, commercialized parody of what it once was. Cities are raped, go into crazy debt, and, as Kip notes, fail to learn that to host the Olympics is not necessarily a good thing. (Take note, Mr. O'Malley.)

But, above all that, making all of the economic and political agruments irrelevant, there is this: my neighbor will skate in the Olympics.

She is today only 16 years old, and, ever since I've known her, I've know that she ice skates. I've known that she would drive up to the University of Delaware nearly every day to practice (from the 'burbs north of Baltimore). I've known that she was a good student, a good kid, popular, with lots of friends, plays outside, is an athlete, is the kind of kid you want to populate your neighborhood.

But I never realized that she was THAT good. Until we watched her in the US championships a few weeks ago. Maybe she was a dark horse, I never really thought about it. She was always just that kid down the street who was a really good skater, not to mention a sophomore at Fallston High (yeah, Cougars!).

But she was that good. She ended up finishing second to Sasha Cohen (Michelle Kwan got the cheap bid.)

And she will fly to Turin tomorrow, along with her brother and parents. And she does represent the ideal of the Olympic spirit. In spite of the craziness that has now come to surround the game, there is still a purity to it that remains true to its ideals.

Kimmie Meissner has been skating since she was 6, and she has spent the last several years training up in Delaware, and she signed autographs last week at our local pizza joint to help raise money for her family to travel to watch her skate in Italy, and she is my neighbor, and in spite of all the commercialization and the crazy dollars and the tasteless, crassless, materialism that has surrounded The Games, the ideal remains.

So let us park our cynicism for the next few weeks or so. Let us revel in the Games' athletes, in the work they have done, and in the ideals they embody.

Go, Kimmie. Do us, and yourself, and these ideals, proud.

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