Paige Boucher: Without a fever but in need of fire
February 27, 2018
As I take in the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Olympics, I reflect on what a spectacular two week of highs and lows we've witnessed. We've shared highs with the world's best athletes, who have devoted their entire lives to their winter sports of sliding on ice or snow.
As they compete on the world stage, their families, their nations and the world are rooting them on. Even if these athletes don't bring home a medal, they are still winners because they earned a spot at these most elite world games. With the games, there has been a momentary reprieve from the ominous threat of nuclear war hanging over the world, because North and South Korea have competed as a unified team.
And it's been a time of horrific lows as yet another shooter with an AR-15 has devastated a Florida town, the state and our nation by killing 17 students and teachers.
I feel stunned. I've had the flu for the past week, so I've had lots of time alone, on my back, to think, feel and process. It feels like the world is boiling out there and is no longer containable.
From my sick bed I've had the thrill of watching Steamboat athletes, who I've known since they were making pizza turns at Howelsen Hill, jump and ski their best. I also watched as Florida police escorted single-file lines of students away from their school, which had just been rampaged by an ex-student with a military assault rifle.
Then, I watched and re-watched several times as Ester Ledecka, the Czech world class snowboarder who trained in Steamboat, come from out of nowhere to earn the gold medal in the Super G women's ski race, after the announcers had called the race and left the studio.
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I then watched as those Florida students boarded buses to go protest the NRA and lawmakers in the NRA's pockets. I am deeply impressed at how articulate the students are as they passionately demand stricter gun laws. Maybe there is hope.
I watched Mikaela Shiffrin win her second gold. I watched as devastated parents who had just lost children demanded of their government. Why didn't we fix this problem the first time it happened at Columbine nearly 19 years ago?
I watched Lindsey Vonn ski her last competitive run — a spectacular downhill run — and for a moment she was on top at the combined Alpine ski event. Then she hooked a ski and didn't finish the slalom run, which is the second half of the event.
I watched as the Nordic relay team of Jessie Diggins, at her prime and on top of her game, and Kikkan Randall, nine years Diggins’ senior and skiing in her last of five Olympics, together, win gold. Their win sends a symbolic message that we're all better when we work together.
I woke up today without a fever but in need of fire. There are so many things for our children and the rest of us to fear in this world today; planetary change from global warming, nuclear war, sickness and old age without proper medical coverage. How can we face fear if we raise our children in schools filled with fear?
We must find a way to eliminate assault weapons from our schools and our society, so fear of getting shot is no longer something innocent people must face.