Mexico’s cross-country skier German Madrazo represents exactly what the Olympics are all about. But I bet you’ve never heard of him before reading that sentence.
Even if you’re a die-hard cross-country skiing fan, living your life one kick-and-glide at a time, consuming every diagonal stride that NBC Olympics coverage offers, you probably still missed Madrazo’s dramatic finish today in the 15km free event.
Out of 115 finishing competitors in the event, Madrazo finished 115th. His finishing time was 59 minutes and 35.4 seconds, which calculates as a 25-minute difference between him and the gold-medal winner. A dead-last finish, coming in behind a 42-year-old Colombian skier and the shirtless Tongan who glistened so brightly in the competition that two skiers couldn’t even finish. Just kidding ladies, he did actually wear a shirt for the event.
By NFL terms, Madrazo would have been “Mr. Irrelevant”. But he was anything but irrelevant with the fashion of his finish.
In a brilliant example of competitive respect and appreciation for hard work, several of the athletes who finished before Madrazo waited and cheered him on to the finish. Even the gold-medal winner, Dario Cologna, stood clapping as the group hoisted Madrazo onto their shoulders and walked him off the track as if he was an undersized linebacker for Notre Dame who just sacked the quarterback.
With his home country’s flag proudly waving in the breeze, German Madrazo was a hero in a sport that he took up as a challenge to himself only one year ago.
Madrazo became interested in cross-country skiing after reading an article about a Peruvian cross-country skier Roberto Carcelan. Before that article, Madrazo was an Ironman triathlete, living in McAllen, Texas, where he co-founded the Valley Running Company Club to train.
From there he formed an independent training group along with Chilean skier Yonathan Fernandez and Tongan skier Pita Taufatofua in an attempt to qualify for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. And qualify, he did.
Madrazo’s unencumbered spirit combined with his peers’ respect is the baseline foundation of what the Olympics represent. Throw in genuine excitement fueled by competition at its highest level and a dramatic ending, and you can’t ask for anything better from an athletic event.
He’ll more than likely get his 15 minutes of fame, but more importantly Madrazo just got his dramatic ending, by way of a true “Rudy” moment.
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