As startling as this is going to sound, there were two gangs of kids last week who made news without destroying a campus, kicking a cop or lighting up a stick of pot. Strange kids. What they did do was stand off an invasion of the best European athletes in a couple of tough sports. One of them was Billy Kidd (opposite), an economics major out of Vermont, who laced up a badly wrenched left ankle and won a World Cup slalom race after everybody had written him off. Another was Tim Wood, 20, a prelaw student, who laced up and won the world figure skating title with a performance that rendered adherents of that sport speechless.
And as if that were not enough, there were all the girls in the gangs, this great gaggle of tender youngsters who did not win much of anything—but who would not quit.
All these things happened in a sort of winter carnival out West. The World Figure Skating Championships were fought out against the gold and brocade backdrop of the old Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, and the World Cup ski circuit crossed the Atlantic after 2� months of European competitions and moved into Squaw Valley, Calif., which has been so buried by Sierra storms that it is now the world's biggest snowbank. Both events carry an Olympic prestige in this off year and, for both, the rest of the world had sent its toughest competitors to give us our lumps.
In skating, the main job was to find new champions to replace American Peggy Fleming and Wolfgang Schwartz of Austria, both of whom had turned professional after winning the Olympics. In skiing, the push is still on to find out who can come closest to Austria's Karl Schranz, who has the men's World Cup locked up, or to overtake Austria's Gertrud Gabl, who is leading the girls after 14 races.
In Colorado Springs, the foreign legion was headed by Gaby Seyfert, 20, from a town called Karl-Marx-Stadt in East Germany. Gaby was so mad when she lost to Peggy Fleming at the Olympics that she went right home and lost 35 pounds. She has also been practicing her skating, and now, slim and stunning, her honey-blonde hair piled up in non-Communist curls, she was ready. That was clear right from the first interview.
Reporter: "Do you think you could beat Peggy if she were still competing this year?"
Gaby: "Peggy who?"
The two other girls who might have had a chance at the title were out of it. European runner-up Hana Maskova, a lovely Czech, had withdrawn with a wrenched back, and Karen Magnussen, a Canadian, had leg injuries. Who among skating's junior-miss set could muster the assurance to challenge Gaby? Well, there were two U.S. teen-agers who wanted a run at her.
"I'm going to put a bunch of tough stuff into my program—I like to show the judges some real content," said Janet Lynn. And, "This world competition really psychs me up. Boy, I'm ready," said Julie Holmes.
Funny thing, but they hardly seemed like the girls for the job. Janet is 15 years old, was the youngest girl on the U.S. team at Grenoble and looks as though she may be majoring in gamine. She comes on about waist-high, wearing a fluffy little blonde haircut and big eyes, but still not ready to have what is politely called a figure. And Julie Holmes, at 17, serves up green eyes, dark hair and dimples, with a fragile look that will one day blow men's minds. Fragile they may look, but beneath all this both are made of pure steel.