When you think about the winter Olympics books may not be the first thing to come to mind, but now with the games officially under way in PyeongChang, it’s hard for me not to think back on previous Olympics and some of the incredible stories that once captivated us all.
My hometown is roughly 90 miles south of Lake Placid, New York which hosted the winter games in 1932, and then again in 1980 where one of the most memorable moments in the history of the winter Olympics took place. I’m talking of course about what has come to be known as the famous “miracle on ice.” The underdog USA team pulled off the unthinkable that year when they defeated an elite Russian team to win the gold medal, now unbelievably 38 years in the past. They even made a movie about it starring Kurt Russell.
THE BOYS OF WINTER: the untold story of a coach, a dream and the 1980 U.S. Olympic team by WAYNE COFFEY ( 2005, Three Rivers Press) will take you back there and beyond in depth and in vivid detail as you’ve probably never seen or heard about it before.
But if you love the Olympics and hockey is just not your thing, no problem, here are 4 other great books to consider:
A SKATING LIFE: my story by Dorothy Hamill (2007, Hachette) – In her memoir Dorothy Hamill describes the hard work and sacrifices she’d made along the way to winning the 1976 gold medal of figure skating in the midst of a turbulent relationship with both of her parents. But her story goes on well after this achievement was over. She tells us what it was like after winning the gold and the daily struggles of acclimating back to normal life again without the skates and without the rigorous training schedule she’d been so accustomed to for years.
EDGE OF GLORY: the inside story of the quest for figure skating’s Olympic gold medals by CHRISTIE BRENNAN (1998, Penguin) – In this book author Christine Brennan chronicles stories of some of the worlds top figure skaters in the year leading up to the 1998 Nagano, Japan games. If you ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes of competitive figure skating this is the book for you. There are many great stories here, many of which were overshadowed at the time. This of course was also the year of Nancy Kerrigan and the infamous Tonya Harding scandal.
THE RACE OF MY LIFE by HERMANN MAIER (2004, Velo Press) – In this autobiography the colorful Herman Maier chronicles his amazing comeback story and quest to return to the podium after surviving a motorcycle crash that could very well have ended his life much less his skiing career.
BUT NOW I SEE: my journey from blindness to Olympic gold by STEVEN HOLCOMB (Ben Bella books, 2012) – The inspiring story of Steven Holcomb who at the prime of his life and athletic career refused to give up on his Olympic bobsledding dreams despite the fact that he was keeping a secret from the world, and even his teammates and coaches. He was steadily going blind.
With the North Korean involvement these games will be no doubt written about and made historic for political reasons. But that aside, I can’t help but wonder what other compelling stories of the athletes themselves we may one day read about from these games. Guess we’ll have to watch, wait, and see.