From the moment senior writer Steve Rushin stepped off a plane and onto a Swiss tarmac three weeks ago en route to Albertville, looked around the airport and asked, "Is that the Geneva Convention center?" covering the XVI Olympic Winter Games was an eye-opening experience for SI's Olympic contingent. Indeed, everyone we dispatched to the French Alps experienced a different vision and a different version of this winter spectacle.
"These were the most decentralized Olympics ever held, so we all saw the Olympics from a different perspective," says assistant managing editor Julia Lamb. "Some people saw the Mountain Games. Others saw the Albertville Games, while others saw the Small Town Games."
For Lamb, who along with senior editor Demmie Stathoplos and director of photography Karen Mullarkey had the task of overseeing our team of writers, photographers, researchers and technicians, these Games were the Numbers Games. "We had 26 people spread out in three hotels going to 10 venues scattered over 640 square miles," says Lamb. "Keeping track of all that was harder than doing a triple Lutz."
Or at least as hard as the frozen pucks that were flying through the air at the hockey tournament in Mèribel, as photographer David Klutho can attest. For Klutho, these were the Games of Pain. While he was shooting a game between Canada and Norway, an errant slap shot slammed into his right hand, severely bruising it and actually cracking the camera he was holding. Over the next three games that Klutho worked, he was hit by pucks four more times. "Thank God there won't be any hockey in Barcelona," says Klutho. "Although there is the javelin throw."
March 2, 1992
Senior writer William Oscar Johnson and reporter Sally Guard were nearly 50 miles from any wayward pucks while stationed in the mountain outpost of Val d'Isère, site of the giant slalom, Super G and downhill ski events. For Johnson, a veteran of six Winter Olympics, these were the Games of Things to Come. "I wouldn't be surprised if these decentralized Games weren't the first step toward making the Olympics a truly multinational event," he says. "I can see in coming Olympics having every event in a different country, perhaps all over the globe."