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Shaun, Bode, Peyton and the winter of their discontent

 Double gold medalist Shaun White’s loss in the half-pike at the Sochi Games had some fans speculating if like Samson he lost strength when he cut his famous mane. Photograph by Veronica Belmont.

Double gold medalist Shaun White’s loss in the half-pike at the Sochi Games had some fans speculating if like Samson he lost strength when he cut his famous mane. Photograph by Veronica Belmont.

Not a great season for the favorites, huh? First Nole loses in the quarterfinal of the Australian Open and Rafa is injured in the final of the same event, then Peyton has a disastrous Super Bowl, Bode Miller goes down in the Olympic downhill and Shaun White flames out in his signature half-pike.

Time: Time is another country. We tend to think when someone wins that he’ll win forever. But over time, new people come along to challenge the status quo, the way iPod challenged Shaun, the way Matthias Mayer took on Bode and the rest of the field to win the downhill. 

Afterward, Matthias thanked destiny: “My mother is very religious. She believes in this and of course I was brought up like that. It’s a little bit easier for me if I think that way: That everything turns out as it should.”

I would agree but boy, there’s a part of me that really doesn’t want to think that way. Is it destiny for some to suffer? Why?

Regardless of who wins and how, one thing is certain: It’s harder to retain power than it is to attain it. Or as John McEnroe once said, it’s not important to be the best. It’s only important to beat the best.

So what happens when the best lose as they inevitably will? It’s hard on the fans who love them and harder still on the favorites themselves, who once tasted victory and now must settle for defeat. In my new novel “Water Music,” this does not go down well as the games men play spill out from the tennis court and the swimming pool to the bedroom where competition makes losers of us all.