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
February 25, 1980
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.
In reference to your article on the Adirondacks, the author would have us believe that the Park is "our best-kept secret." Anyone who has climbed the high peaks in the summer would scoff at such a statement. In a single day I have encountered up to 70 people on trails to such congested areas as Lake Colden and more than 100 people on the top of Mt. Marcy and the rest of the Great Range. These precious Alpine areas are being trampled to death. I have been backpacking there for more than two years, but from now on I'm going during the winter.
West Hartford, Conn.
As a born-again Limekilner, I think your readers may be interested to know that the chain of lakes your map referred to as "Foulton" was named after Robert Fulton of steamboat fame, who in 1811 was commissioned by the New York State Legislature to investigate the practicality of establishing a direct water route from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes via the Adirondacks. According to the late Joseph F. Grady, a historian of the region, Fulton's written and oral reports of his numerous explorations of the lakes and rivers were so "glowing" that newspaper accounts referred to the area as the "Fulton Chain of Lakes." Incidentally, and fortunately for lovers of the forever wild beauty of the region, Fulton's study concluded that the Adirondack portion of the canal planned by the state would not be practical except as a source of water supply.
I read Robert Boyle's fine article with great pleasure, but I would like to suggest one small qualification. Boyle's assertion that 150 years of Iroquois foreign policy (undying "hatred of the French") was based on Champlain's shooting of two Iroquois in 1609, doesn't give the Iroquois the credit they deserve. On every occasion when war between England and France threatened, the Iroquois sided with the English only after weighing the current status of English, French and Indian relations and posing new conditions as the price of their support for the English.
GRAHAM P. HAWKS
Associate Professor of History
Western Michigan University
THE MOSCOW GAMES (CONT.)
I feel I must express my outrage at the International Olympic Committee (SCORECARD, Feb. 11). The IOC is an aloof and arrogant organization whose hypocritical policies and actions seem to go unnoticed in the world's eyes because of the self-effacing, holier-than-thou image IOC members have perpetuated for themselves.
I believe, like the rest of the world, that the Olympics should be nonpolitical. However, while the IOC attacks the U.S. for attempting to use the Olympics for political objectives, it simultaneously comes out with a ruling that Taiwan cannot participate in the Olympics if it uses the name Republic of China and its national flag and anthem. At least the U.S. actions are taken in the name of world peace. I have heard no legitimate reason for the recent IOC ruling on Taiwan. Taiwan has been an official member of the IOC for at least two decades. The IOC decision is blatantly political.
In the U.S. we constantly criticize our athletic organizations—for example, the NCAA. I, for one, think the actions of the IOC deserve a lot more scrutiny.
I really enjoyed Mike DelNagro's article on the Orangemen of Syracuse (Plenty of Juice in the Orange, Feb. 11). They have made the NCAA playoffs more consecutive times (seven) than any other recent team except UCLA and Marquette. I hope they go all the way this year.
Mike DelNagro made the presumptuous prediction that, barring a loss to St. John's or "unless the sky falls and the rivers run dry," the Orangemen would finish the regular season at 25-1. Well, the sky did fall last Tuesday night at Manley Field House, as Craig (Big Sky) Shelton led the Georgetown Hoyas to a 52-50 victory over Syracuse. Since Georgetown has now beaten Syracuse two years in a row, you may have already figured out that Hoyas like their oranges crushed.
I commend you on your long-awaited account of the master of the slam, Darryl Dawkins (Now You See Him, Now You Don't, Feb. 11). Your article is the true story of a truly good person.
I was at the game in Kansas City the night Darryl destroyed his first backboard. It was an unforgettable experience, and while I realize the danger of flying Plexiglas, I will surely never again witness such an exciting thing.
Trailhounds and German shepherds don't simply lack glamour, as E. M. Swift suggests in his fine piece on the annual Westminster Kennel Club show (Zounds! No Hounds!, Feb. 4). They also happen to be useful, which probably accounts for their chronic failure in the WKC's best-in-show judging. The artificial standards of the WKC have produced an ideal of a mindless ornament that is good for little else but show.
Trailhound and shepherd breeders can take heart that their dogs still bear the dread taint of utility. The longer they are snubbed by the WKC elite, the better. I can't think of a single breed that didn't suffer when it caught the fancy of the WKC's fancy folks.
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