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Can Charlottesville win its economic Olympic race?


AP A. Trovati

Over the past 17 days, over 200 million television viewers watched as Olympic athletes embraced the uncertainty of competition and emerged victorious – medaled or not. Tested again and again with the stress of poor conditions, injuries, bad luck and heart-breaking tragedy, they kept going. And we watched in record numbers. Why?

Could it be that this year we need a little extra help with hope? A few new strategies to keep going in the face of uncertainty? Some reminders to rely on each other when things get tough?

The Olympic athletes showed us that achievement requires not only skill, but courage and action. Like skier who flies out of the gate and heads down a long and treacherous ski slope covered in blinding fog at breakneck speeds.

Right now Charlottesville – individually, organizationally and as a community – is like that Olympic athlete at the top of the mountain. Stress and anxiety are all around. Nearly every media report talks about the area’s uncertainty – to buy, to build, to hire…to risk.

What can Charlottesville do to embrace the uncertainty and stress that face us and emerge victorious in our economic Olympic race? Listen to some of the folks who were there in Vancouver:

  •  If you want to take those kinds of risks that open yourself up to be emotionally attached and really get built up about the Olympics; and if you’re willing to do that - to put yourself through that every time -- it does open the door for a truly inspirational performance that’s above and beyond what you could do under any other circumstance.

         - Bode Miller, 3 medal winner, alpine skiing, on inspiration and performance

  • I’ve never seen someone get to a major event and not compete because they’re scared. You keep your inner fears to yourself and do it. I think he’ll regret this decision for the rest of his life.

        - Netherlands bobsled coach Tom de la Hunty on his pilot’s decision to withdraw from the event

  • I’m thankful I had the team around me. All of the hard work and dedication paid off.

        - Tessa Virtue, Canadian gold medalist, ice dancing, on her pair's victory

  • I'm taking more risk than everyone else. That's partly why I'm able to get medals. It looks easy when you make it....I take everything with a grain of salt. There are a million variables. I am willing to deal with the consequences, when a lot of guys aren't willing to deal with those consequences. So they don't take the risk. 

        - Bode Miller, on winning and risk

  • He's probably the most talented person on a ski jump, and probably in history. But the fact that he still works … that hard at it …shows that he doesn't take it for granted."

         - Anders Johnson on 3 medal winner Austrian ski jumper Greg Schlierenzauer

  • The race is never over until I cross that line, so I had to dig deep to find extra speed and extra strength and I was very happy with how I was able to come back, especially from last place.

        - 3 medal winner Apolo Ohno, on the 1000m short track speedskating event

  • The best way I can describe it is to go up onto the thirtieth floor of any building, and then get in the car and drive that car off the top roof, and then land safely. That is pretty much what it is."

        - American Todd Lodwick on real-life comparisons to ski jumping

We can do this.

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Emily Bardeen of is a career and workforce development advisor to individuals and organizations.  If you have a question or would like to discuss your career, job search or organization's workforce goals, contact Emily at


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