WINTER OLYMPICS: ON TO INNSBRUCK
Living in practically snowless southeastern Pennsylvania and being an ardent foe of winter and cold weather in general, I had never seen so much as a pair of skis, let alone anyone use them, until Squaw Valley. Even the reams of pre-Games publicity (especially heavy, but very enjoyable on the dazzling Miss Pitou) failed to prepare me for the tremendous impact of that magnificent spectacle, the VIII Winter Olympics, presented so brilliantly by CBS and your fine magazine. For sheer sporting pleasure, this combination of coverage has truly never been equaled, surpassing even the lofty heights attained by TV and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in the Giants-Colts sudden-death game (SI, Jan. 5, 19, '59).
You may be interested in some impressions of a sports lover completely unfamiliar with this type of competition. I thought Heiss and Jenkins were unbelievable, likewise the Canadian pairs skaters. The Russians were just slightly fantastic, and words fail me when it comes to our crazy hockey team (wow!). However, taking nothing away from these and so many more fine performers, my warmest memories were supplied by the exciting U.S. girls' Alpine team. I shall never forget Penny Pitou's dramatic, split-second-too-late runs and her heartbreaking fall; Betsy Snite's awful crash and her sparkling finish in the slalom; Linda Meyers' understandable pole-thumping rage; or that priceless comment from Joan Hannah after her fiasco in the downhill ("I hit the dumb gate").
So, hats off to pretty Penny and company. They have roused in this old warm-weather fan deep appreciation and a new interest in winter sports. So much of an interest, I might add, that I have just opened a special savings account to be used for the express purpose of getting me to Innsbruck in 1964. The intensity of my emotions may seem surprisingly out of character to some of my West Chester friends.
ALICE M. DOUGHERTY
West Chester, Pa.
Your coverage of the Winter Olympics has been nothing short of fabulous. However, there is one statement in your Olympic report (SI, Feb. 29) that really made me choke. Roy Terrell says, " America is a land of green grass and blooming fields, not of ice and snow, and to Americans cross-country skiing is an idiot's pastime."
Come, come now! Surely you can think of a better excuse for the poor showing by the U.S. skiers than that. Or maybe you just don't know your geography. Just for kicks I made a list of all the states which have snow and skiing conditions every bit as good, and in some cases better, than those of Europe, and I came up with 17. Furthermore, those 17 states contain 50 million people, or more than twice the population of all four Scandinavian nations combined.
I believe the poor showing of our North American athletes lies not in our climatic or geographical conditions but rather in our soft way of life. A kid, by the time he is 17, would rather be zinging around in a hot rod than out on the ski slopes. Let's face it, we Yanks and Canucks are just enjoying the good life too much to be worrying about whether or not Russia stalks off with all the honors, which she is well on her way to doing. Unfortunately, this makes wonderful propaganda material for the Russians.
OXYGEN OR PURE GOLD?
Did the chemical symbol O, for oxygen, win the Olympic hockey championship or the hustling American players?
Judging from the way the local press and radio have played up this incident, any number of conjectures are suggested. Why didn't the American coach think of oxygen? The elevation of over 6,000 feet is no secret! Did the Russians let us, rather than the Czechs, in on their secret weapon so they would not look bad at home by comparison with their slaves?
Anything that served to discredit the guts and determination displayed by the American hockey team is, in my opinion, bad taste, stupid and unpatriotic.
? U.S. Olympic Hockey Coach Jack Riley does not ordinarily have his players take oxygen between periods. Said Riley after accepting Russian Captain Nikolai Sologubov's suggestion, "I think the lift was mostly psychological. I know the boys appreciated Solly's gesture." Incidentally, Bill Cleary, who accounted for one goal and assisted for three more in the third period of the clinching game, did not take a whiff.—ED.