“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” Mary Pickford (1893 – 1979)
On March, 21, 1970, Yugoslavian ski-jumper Victor Blogataj was an entrant in the Ski-flying World Championships in Oberstdorf, West Germany (now Germany). We’ve all seen his infamous jump attempt where, upon final approach to the lip of the jump ramp, he tried to abort his jump because he felt he was going too fast. For decades Victor was known as “…the agony of defeat,” and we saw his ill-fated jump attempt in the opening sequence of ABC’s Wide World of Sports every week for a decade or more.
What we never did see was Victor getting up after that fall, having suffered only a minor concussion. Nor did we see his return to competitive ski jumping the following season. And while Victor never did regain his former standing in the world of ski jumping, he went on and became a successful coach in the event – eventually coaching the 1991 World Champion Slovenian ski jumper, Franci Petek.
For many of us, our only impression of Victor is that of a failure. We laughed at the slap-stick nature of his fall, and never considered him relevant in the world of ski jumping. This label was unfairly pinned to Victor, so it seems, because we never had the opportunity to witness his refusal to stay down. Victor made a serious mistake, but he got back up, used his minor celebrity to get in the game, and continue his pursuit of his passion — and quite successfully I might add.
Don’t stay down. Until next time…