The festival's established performers included figure skater Linda Fratianne, the 1977 world champion, who won the women's singles at Colorado Springs' Broadmoor Hotel and also showed off her pert nose, recently altered surgically to improve her breathing and appearance. Another big name was gymnast Kurt Thomas, who did not compete but gave an exhibition during the festival. And then there was 1976 Olympic long-jump champion Arnie Robinson. The cream of America's track and field talent was in Europe, but Robinson hoped to get off his first 28-foot jump in the favorable 7,280-foot altitude of the Air Force Academy. He did not have to be reminded that Mexico City's altitude helped Bob Beamon attain his world-record 29'2�" shocker in 1968.
Robinson paid his own way from Europe to New York City and the USOC picked up the rest of the tab. On a cloudy, windy afternoon at the Academy, he won with a jump of 26'7�". It didn't make him happy. In fact, he was so disgusted he skipped his last try. "I came here to jump 28 feet," he said. "I didn't come to win. If it's impossible for me to jump 28 feet, I'm wasting my time. But with that wind, nobody could have jumped even 27 feet.
"For the first jump the wind was with us and I had to chop my stride. Then the wind turned and I had it in my face. Jumping 28 feet is just a matter of getting the right conditions. In my last three meets I jumped against the wind. I came over here, paying my way from Europe and back to Europe, spending $800 of my own money, and what happens? I'm jumping against a head wind."
Surprisingly large crowds showed up at a court tucked away in one corner of the vast Air Force Academy gym to watch team handball, an Olympic sport that has been popular in Europe for almost a century but is no better known in the U.S. than the Eskimo game of nugluktaktok. Team handball is played with a white ball slightly smaller than a volleyball and combines elements of basketball, lacrosse and probably a dozen other sports that have goals at either end of a playing area. One reason for its popularity at the festival was that the star for the Midwest—and the team's coach—was 6'6" Tom Schneeberger, who started playing on the club level as an Air Force Academy cadet. He is also the Academy's third all-time leading scorer in basketball and won an NCAA postgraduate scholarship in aeronautical design. Schneeberger was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, but he has a five-year military commitment, so for now he is a team handball player. His prowess in the sport has earned him a trip to Iceland. He hopes it will take him to Moscow, too.
For the women playing basketball day after day in Colorado College's gymnasium in downtown Colorado Springs, the competition took on special importance. At the end of the festival, the dozen best players were to be picked for a tour of Ecuador and Peru. But 17-year-old June Olkowski from Philadelphia, a star for the East, also got caught up in the team competition. "I want to win this festival," she said. "The East team is great. And then I'll think about Peru."
Another East player was Mary Ostrowski, 16, out of Parkersburg, W. Va. As if Ostrowski and Olkowski were not enough, the East also had the Donovan girls, 19-year-old Mary, who stands 6'3", and her 16-year-old sister Anne, at 6'8" one of the country's tallest women basketball players. With this kind of firepower, the East beat the South 72-58 in the finals. And both Olkowski and Ostrowski were selected for the tour.
To nobody's surprise, men's volleyball was dominated by the West, an all-California bunch hailing from places like Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Barbara, where kids learn the game on the beaches. The West won all four of its matches—without losing a game—at the modern Coronado High School gym.
The West's star was UCLA's Steve Salmons, the 6'4" son of a onetime University of Missouri football lineman and shotputter. He smothered the best hits of opposing players and, equally important, managed to calm down his sometimes excitable West teammate, USC's Tim Hovland. Salmons and Hovland had been invited to join America's national team, which is training year-round in Dayton, but both elected to stay in school. They hope to make the Olympic volleyball team anyway, assuming that the U.S. qualifies one for the '80 Games.
"Salmons is an exceptionally nice kid, a leader," said an opposing coach. "Some kids can't even organize their rooms, so it's nice to see a guy like him in the sport."
The entire nine-member West team plus three others were picked for a junior national team that will play in an international tournament in Hawaii next week. Then everybody went off to a party with the women volleyball players.