(Editor's note: Chuck has postponed the second part of his series "Alcohol vs. Marijuana" until after the Winter Olympics so he can address some moments of inspiration from the games.)
American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, a native of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, made the decision of his life in Olympic competition over the weekend, and it paid off big-time, with the first American gold medal -- and the first gold medal in general -- in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Whatever our aspirations, his example shows us the way to our ticket to gold, too.
After earning his place in the finals by finishing second in the semifinals earlier on Saturday, the 20-year-old Kotsenburg called his elder brother Blaze, who was at home in Park City, Utah, and U.S. coach Bill Enos to run by them a risky and, some would say, crazy idea, according to USA Today.
Kotsenburg wanted to throw something into his first Olympic finals run -- a trick he never had done before in either practice or prior competition. It is called a "back 16 Japan," which is essentially spinning backward 4 1/2 times (1,620 degrees of rotation) while grasping the back part of one's snowboard (Japan). It is also known as a backside double-cork 1620 Japan.
At first, I'm sure coach Enos and brother Blaze raised their eyebrows at the idea. One might try that daring trick on a practice run back in Park City, but at the Olympics during the finals? Kotsenburg said to his coach, "I think I might go back 16 Japan." The coach responded, "Send it! What do you have to lose?"
Though he had made his mark as a champion snowboarder back in the U.S., Kotsenburg was already being cast as an underdog in the Olympics -- especially while in the shadow of megastar Shaun White, who withdrew from the men's slopestyle competition a few days earlier.
He was up against not only 11 other Olympic competitors but also his own internal risk walls and emotions. I can imagine he could feel his heart pounding as adrenaline surged through his body at the starting gate while he was alone thinking of his upcoming untried trick. I'm sure he asked himself, if even momentarily, "What if I don't pull off the back 16 Japan?" It could have meant the agony of defeat before his largest audience ever.
Well, Kotsenburg faced his fears and slam-dunked his back 16 Japan and the slopestyle snowboarding contest, which was also making its Olympic debut as an event. He received a score of 93.50 on that first run -- a high score that slayed the following nine competitors and even held throughout the second runs of competition, too.