Sport: How to Succeed by Trying

The lilting strains of Johann Strauss's Graduation Ball wafted through Cortina, Italy, as a sturdy blonde girl glided around the open-air rink. The music leaped, and the girl leaped too—a twisting "double axel" that sent her hurtling through the air until she glided back on the ice. The music played on, and each time it soared, she soared—through intricate "flying camels," "double toe-loops" and "flying sit-spins." The performance ended. The Netherlands' Sjoukje Dijkstra, 21, smiled sweetly, acknowledging the bravos. She smiled again, less demurely, when the judges announced her score (5.9 out of a possible 6.0 points) and gave her the...

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