When Julia Lamb signed on as a copy girl at SI in 1962, she could have had no way of knowing that, two decades later, we'd be sending her back whence she'd come.
Two days before reporting to work here, Lamb had stepped off a Yugoslavian freighter after the last leg of some post-Vassar travel in Europe. Now a senior editor responsible for, among other things, winter sports, she is supervising our reportage leading up to and through the 1984 Winter Olympics—in Yugoslavia—and she'll take in the Sarajevo scene in person.
"Yugoslavia was an exotic place for a young woman from Michigan, North Dakota to visit then, and it's certainly an obscure place for an Olympics today," says Lamb, whose latest Games-related editing assignment was E.M. Swift's story on the U.S. speed skating team beginning on page 46.
Lamb has been planning for the '84 Winter Games since the week after the U.S. hockey team's stunning gold medal victory at Lake Placid in 1980. With the considerable help of veteran winter sports writers Bob Ottum and William Oscar Johnson and Associate Editor Anita Verschoth, all of whom have already made trips to Sarajevo, Lamb has overseen the task of finding work space, transportation, translators and accommodations for the SI group that will be at the Games. "When I was in Yugoslavia in 1962, I stayed in simple youth hostels," says Lamb. "This time we'll be in a spanking new hotel—provided, of course, they get it built." At last report, a temporary factory located in the muddy front yard of the hotel-to-be was busily turning out the bricks to build it.
November 21, 1983
Under Lamb's guidance dozens of SI story ideas have been explored and developed. The stylized snowflake capped by the Olympic rings, the official logo of the Sarajevo Games, which we print with Games-connected stories, first appeared in the issue of March 22, 1982, accompanying Johnson's History's New Imprint, an introduction to the complex, absorbing city that will be the host of the Games.
"Sarajevo is a faraway place, both geographically and culturally," says Lamb, "so our first goal was to tell people where it is and what it is and, as a corollary, something about the country of Yugoslavia."
Having done that, most recently with a travel piece by Johnson (A Trip East with West, Oct. 24), Lamb & Co. have begun zeroing in on the athletes—both the stars and the long shots—who hope to make their dreams come true this winter. Virtually every week, right up to the opening ceremonies on Feb. 8, SI will run at least one story pertaining to the Games; our Feb. 6, 1984 preview issue will feature some 40 pages of personalities and predictions. "The breadth and depth of our coverage will enable our readers to know who the leading athletes are and what the U.S. prospects are by the time the Games begin," says Lamb.
Come Feb. 20, the day after the closing ceremony, Lamb won't be taking a freighter home from Yugoslavia. Instead, she'll be going to England for a much-deserved holiday.