I was immediately taken by the cover of your Winter Olympic Preview Issue (Feb. 11). Heinz Kluetmeier's shot of Eric Heiden is superb! It is the complete embodiment of what the Olympic athlete represents: graceful determination, flawless form and active physical power. I have never before seen a photograph that so smoothly captures the golden essence of an Olympic athlete.
CHERYL A. KEPNER
I must say your Feb. 4 cover photograph of Christie Brinkley brought a sparkle to the men's eyes. But thank you for following up with a picture of Eric Heiden. There's something about Eric's determined face and muscular appearance in that sleek, gold uniform. Let's hope Eric & Co. can win and keep the gold here where it belongs.
As an avid football, basketball and baseball fan, I had never appreciated the tremendous athletic ability a speed skater possesses. I hope all SI readers realize that Terry Bradshaw, Willie Stargell and Darryl Dawkins have nothing on Eric Heiden. Thank you for opening my eyes to one of America's best.
Magnifique! What more can I say about John G. Zimmerman's photograph of World Champion Pair Skaters Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia? Rarely have I seen a picture that catches the fire and passion of skating. In a world of contrived poses and staged stunts, this was a breath of fresh air.
WAYNE A. WOLVERTON
My hat's off to William Oscar Johnson for his article on the Olympic downhill (The Downhill: Majesty and Madness, Feb. 11). Although I'm a moderate Sunday-style skier at best, after reading the article I feel as though I've just completed the run. I'll probably go out next week and break a leg.
My sincere thanks to SI and Johnson for giving the commonplace skier an inside look. Now when I watch the downhill, I'll be able to "feel" with the racers.
White Bear Lake, Minn.
Your chilling article on downhill skiing illustrates the win-at-all-cost philosophy of modern athletics. There will surely be some who will contrast this with the view of Baron Pierre de Coubertin that the important thing was not to win but to take part. These same people may also believe that de Coubertin's view represents the ancient Greek attitude.
Here is what the fifth-century B.C. poet Pindar had to say about the losers in the wrestling for boys at the Pythian Games in Delphi: "For them [the losers] no happy homecoming was decreed, as there was for you [the victor], and as they returned to their mothers no sweet laughter brought pleasure, but they crept through the back streets, avoiding their enemies, crushed by their misfortune." Winning was all; second and third places are seldom mentioned.
This will to win was still strong in the second century A.D., 700 years later. Here is the grave inscription of a certain Agathos Daimon: "He died here [at Olympia] boxing in the stadium, having prayed to Zeus for the crown [of victory] or death."
WALDO E. SWEET
Professor of Latin
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I just finished reading your article on New York's Adirondack Park ("No Landscape More Brightly Gemmed," Jan. 28), and it was as moving a piece as any I've read in this Olympic year. A beautiful article with a bitter end. Thanks to Robert H. Boyle for his exposure of Dr. Anne LaBastille's studies of the effects of acid precipitation. The dangers suggested are very real and very disturbing.