The Triumph of Team USA – Expectation versus Preparation?

Think winter sports and this year’s setting in Vancouver, Canada seemed to ensure a “hometown” advantage in some key areas-

including hockey and alpine skiing.  After all, our neighbors to the frigid North seem to have these winter sports and lots more in their DNA.  I know – I grew up in Michigan with a Canadian-born father and spent my childhood rooting for Detroit’s  superstar hockey player Gordy Howe (the greatest of them all) and challenging cousins to contests on skates and sleds on both sides of the U.S-Canadian border, loving every moment of it.

Yet something remarkable has been happening – previously star-crossed U.S. Olympic teams are currently dominating this year’s events on the hills and on the ice over Canada and European powerhouses Germany, Austria and Russia.  And the mighty Canadian Hockey team was just taken down a huge notch by the scrappy U.S. team.

Sports writers have been making a lot of surmises, but one theme that seems to keep coming up is expectation versus preparation.  Key American skiers are coming back from a disappointing Olympics four years ago in Turin, Italy, where the U.S. may have come in second in overall medals at Torino 2006 to Germany, but many of the superstar skiers came up short.  Turns out they just got more determined this time, while the Canadians may have assumed it would be a rerun.

Business success, from entrepreneurs to global enterprises, often works on the same principles as sports.  An expectation of superiority often proceeds a fall – just look at the on-going drama in the auto industry.  Yet skiers Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn are proving this year yet again that past disappointments in the Olympics can be turned around with dedication. On the other hand, the hometown advantage and crowd support won’t ensure success.  Practice and persistence, in the end, can win out. And hold on, we’re still awaiting the final act on this Olympics drama.

It promises to be exciting!

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