There is a new contender for the most brutal heartbreak possible in sports. It’s not a Game 7 loss or even an 0-16 season. It’s not finishing fourth in a medal event or suspiciously wiping out in consecutive short track races. It’s this: You train your whole life in a largely obscure sport that’s only nationally relevant for two weeks every four years. Finally, at 29, you’re named to an Olympic team. You travel around the world, walk in the opening ceremony, and then—just a day before you’re scheduled to compete on the biggest stage in sports—you get injured on a practice run. And that’s it. Your Olympics are over. Try again at 33.
That’s what happened to U.S. skier Tommy Biesemeyer, who was just scratched from the men’s downhill event set to take place tomorrow after injuring his ankle during training. His statement really captures the pathos of dedicating your entire life to a singular goal:
“I wonder why this happens. It is hard to not think if there is a deeper meaning to it all,” he said. “You are supposed to be optimistic in times like these and say something like, ‘I will come back stronger than ever.’ But I just can’t bring myself to do it. I am honored to have been named to Team USA and walking in the Opening Ceremony is a moment I’ll never forget.“