As temperatures dropped here this week and we finally saw proper snow in School, the alternative winter sports programme began at break time to great excitement. It seems fitting, therefore, to turn our attention towards the 2018 Winter Olympics which begin today in Pyeongchang. Here are my favourite Winter Olympic stories and the lessons we can learn from them!

At Calgary, in 1988, the Jamaicans broke the mould and entered a four man bobsleigh team for the first time. The focus of disbelief and the inspiration behind the film, Cool Runnings. The team were brought together by an American, George Fitch, who first had the idea when watching a pushcart derby on the island.

Manned by the fittest and fastest members of the Jamaican Defence Force that they could find, the team travelled to Lake Placid to train before the Olympics and even had to substitute one of the team members for his own brother, after a last-minute injury. Although they only finished 24th out of 26 competitors, crashing out in their final run and walking together over the line, they earned themselves cult status on the back of their enthusiasm and have-a-go attitude.

The 1998 Winter Olympics were held in Nagano, where Hermann Maier was hotly tipped for gold in the men’s downhill. On a technically challenging and hazardous course, Maier crashed spectacularly – one of the nastiest in Olympic history – and the world held its breath to see if he would get up again. Not only did “The Herminator” do just that, but just a few days later, he claimed gold in the Super-G and followed it up with another in the giant slalom. One of Olympic history’s greatest comebacks.

The records will show Steven Bradbury won gold in the 1000m short track speed skating at the Salt Lake City Olympics of 2002. The story behind the medal is one of remarkable good fortune. The Australian had progressed from the quarter finals on the back of a judge ruling he had been illegally knocked over by a competitor. He then made it to the final after three other skaters fell at separate times in his semi-final. In the final itself, Bradbury employed the same tactic, hanging back and keeping his fingers crossed that a couple would fall and he might nick a bronze. Incredibly, on the final corner every single skater other than Bradbury hit the deck and he cruised over the line as Olympic champion.

The message to our children is clear: try new things; don’t be afraid to fail but do your best to get back up again; and God loves a trier!

I can’t sign off without making mention of the U10 and U11 girls that took part in the Sedbergh Netball Festival on Wednesday, with all players putting on a cracking display and the ‘B’ team earning their trophy as winners of the Plate Competition. A special thanks to Julia Rollings for her superb organisation and the maintenance team for working their magic and making the outdoor courts playable in the freezing conditions.

Finally, a special mention to all the Year 7 and 8 girls that helped that day – you were fantastic ambassadors for the School and deserve great credit. Very well done!

Have a lovely half term break.


Follow Sedbergh: