When an ice skater falls down three times during an Olympic performance with the world watching, it can feel almost impossible to move forward with any vision for a brighter future in the sport. That was certainly the case for Italy’s Carolina Kostner after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In addition, she had skated poorly four years earlier during the Turin games, which took place on her home soil.
Kostner was considered a bright young talent who would take the skating world by storm and give Italians their best chance ever of winning an ice skating medal. But high expectations have been the downfall of many a man and woman because the pressure can be too much to bear. Other people get in your head and tell you what you’re supposed to be, thereby blocking out what your heart and soul are telling you. That’s what happened with Kostner.
Until last night.
Kostner had planned on retiring for good after the Vancouver Olympics, deciding she needed time with family and friends away from the constant pressure of competition. That time gave her new perspective on her ice skating career.
She told the Chicago Tribune, ““I think everybody has ups and downs in their lives. We learn from the biggest disappointments, right? You learn how to be humble to yourself and to be humble to others. You learn to respect and learn the value of a medal much more…It was really hard times. So I told myself, no results any more, just skating. And that’s what I started skating for, right? Not to be known or anything.”
Kostner, now age 27 with a maturity born of failure, entered the Sochi Olympics focused on her love of skating and the artistry involved, not thinking about medals.
Ironically, this is the year she finally won a medal. After the beautiful artistry she exhibited during her short program skate to “Ave Maria” and last night’s free skate to “Bolero,” Kostner earned her best score of her season, along with a bronze medal that made her the first Italian ever to win an Olympic figure skating singles medal.
Kostner told ESPN, “This medal is absolutely worth gold. I will cherish it in my heart. It feels so great that patience and sacrifice and hard work and faith are paid at the end.”