Failure Is Not A Finish Line

Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

Maybe the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing were the most fake Olympic Games in history. The outdoor events were taking place on almost 100% artificial snow. China had filled some of their teams with “citizen-ized” North Americans who couldn’t (or wouldn't) make their own national teams…

But for those athletes that were competing for binary win-versus-lose results, it was not fake at all to them.

So, when I watched the world’s best slalom skier, Michaela Shifrin, skid out of competition not once, but twice, it gave me pause as a coach and athlete myself.

Where does a high-performer’s mind take them in such dark times? There is no easy answer.

All I can counsel (and I’m not a professional counsellor in any stretch, but my coaching does touch on mindset) is to consider working on a cultivating an Olympic Mindset. Fortify yourself before life or sports throws you off-course.


Studies have suggested that visualization training can achieve results comparable to physical training.

Cultivate your mindfulness/meditation practice. In that relaxed mindful state, add in some vivid scenes of yourself performing at your best. It builds a feeling of familiarity. That will help you tune-out distractions and stress when you enter your real-life competition zone.


The pessimist resigns themselves to all-or-nothing thinking. If a problem doesn’t have an immediate solution, then they think there is no solution at all.

Optimists aren’t seeing the world as filled with unicorns and magical thinking. But they do see the hope in the world and in their lives. They proactively think about the problems that could arise. They search for solutions. Where there is a will there is a way.

For cyclists, where there is a wheel (to follow) there is a way.

Limited Perfectionism

Pure perfectionism lives with pessimism. It’s another form of all-or-nothing thinking, centring on complete control over situations.

Striving for high standards, just short of perfect, is completely acceptable. But you must stay flexible enough to learn from your mistakes and not allow them to skewer you.

Work Hard, Not Too Hard

I’ve seen many professionals follow athletic pursuits before or after following their career paths. It’s likely because success in both requires a strong work ethic. Only you can get yourself out of bed for an early morning workout or long commute to the office.

But pushing your workouts too hard all the time will lead to metabolic collapse. That’s true non-functional over-training. It can take months to years to recover from.

You must trust the process of recovery days, recovery weeks, and sometimes a recovery month. Allow your body to absorb your training and heal.

Find Your Fun

Stay in the game of cycling and the game of life by seeing it all as … a … game.

Games are meant to be fun! You’ll feel like you’re having a great time along the journey as you find the little ways to have fun with yourself, your teammates and your competitors.

Look for the small moments to appreciate you’ve got the strength and endurance to be in this step of the race. Maybe you won’t last the whole race. But you’re here, right now. This race becomes your puzzle to solve.

If you will reinforce your dedication to training with flashes of fun then your experience will be better. Your well-being will grow.

Now I’m sure none of these points sifted through Michaela Shifrin’s mind as she sat dejected on the side of the slalom course. Yet she’s an Olympian. She’ll spend more time away from the ski hill thinking about what happened in her racing at these past Olympic Games. When she does enter another ski race – know she found her own way to reflect on these five characteristics.

Find your own way too.


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