While Zajonc was still a member of the Canadian team, he got a bigger scare than a luge course ever gave him. In December 1983, when he was in Sarajevo for a World Cup meet—his first trip to a Communist country since his defection—Miro's roommate received a phone call for him from a man who would not leave his name. When Zajonc asked about it at the desk, he was told there had been no calls, though all messages had to go through the switchboard. "I was afraid, but I was not sure what I was afraid of," he says. He did not stay to find out. That night, he drove to Austria and then returned to the U.S. In January '85, Zajonc, who will become a U.S. citizen in time for the '88 Olympics, finally joined the American team and won both the 1985 national singles and doubles championships.
Last summer in Annapolis, Zajonc received another phone call. The caller was Iveta Klabnikova, a woman he had known back in his hometown of Novy Smokovec. Klabnikova had been allowed out of Czechoslovakia to visit an aunt in Pittsburgh. Zajonc invited her to Annapolis. "When I leave Czechoslovakia, I am not planning to defect. But also, I am not planning to fall in love," she says. Miro and Iveta were married on Christmas Eve in Lake Placid. The Zajoncs now live in a mobile home there, and for entertainment they go to the movies. Among their favorites are Rocky IV and White Nights. Lately the Zajoncs have been able to put aside a few extra dollars for movie tickets, thanks to Iveta's job as a ski instructor at nearby Whiteface Mountain. She says the job is good because it takes her mind off her homesickness for her family in Czechoslovakia. "Sometimes still I cry," she says. But she laughs at her husband. "These lugers, they are crazy," she says. "They go so fast I cannot even make photograph."
On the track Zajonc goes so fast he has literally outrun his coaches. Ron Rossi, executive director of the USLA, and U.S. team coach for the World Cup, can do little more than stand in awe of Zajonc. After a recent practice run at Lake Placid, Rossi's voice crackled over a radio to Zajonc: "Miro, if anybody wanted to know what perfection in this sport looks like, all they had to do was watch that."
"Thank you," said Zajonc, who put down the radio, smiled and observed, "Coaches. They are all alike."
So who coaches you, Miro?
"The video," he says.
But not for long. "We're looking for a world-class coach. A Scotty Bowman. A Sparky Anderson. Not just for Miro, but for the whole team," says Bob Hughes.
Meanwhile, Zajonc is something of a coach without portfolio. "They can watch me and they learn," he says of his teammates. That is particularly true of Frank Masley (the U.S. flag bearer at Sarajevo), whose times are getting close to Zajonc's. "But I don't have Miro's smoothness," says Masley, who sometimes wrestles his sled around the track like a man tossing in bed. Zajonc steers with barely perceptible movements of his legs and shoulders.
"He can put the sled to within six inches of any given line," says ex- Canada coach Doug Hansen.
"I don't say he'll put the world at our door, but if he wins in Calgary he can take this sport further than it's ever been in this country," says Bob Hughes.