Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as
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Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration
for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game
winning streak in 1974."
more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach.
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by Tony Medley
This film caught me on the
horns of a consistency dilemma. I love surfing movies and remember
remarking in one of my reviews that I admired surfers who knew that all
they wanted to do in life was surf, devoting their lives to their
But this film, which is
about extreme skiers, really rubbed me the wrong way. But itís about a
very few people who know what they want to do in life and devote their
lives to that pleasure. So why do I admire surfers and not these skiers?
I think for one reason it
is that surfers arenít really doing something inherently stupid, and
these people are. Whatís inherently stupid about extreme skiers? They go
around the world looking for the steepest slopes, some more than 55į.
When they find them, they helicopter in and ski down. If they fall,
theyíre dead. If a surfer falls thereís a remote chance of death, but
generally the worst that happens is that they get wet, which is what
they were when they started. I can see very little difference between
these extreme skiers and people who want to go over Niagara Falls in a
barrel, and can see no reason to try to lionize them with a fawning
Doug Coombs, who is one of
the extreme skiers followed and interviewed here, says about his wife,
Emily, ďShe must think Iím a complete kook.Ē He died shortly thereafter
in a skiing accident. His wife is shown saying that he died doing what
he loved. Oh, isnít that great. He died doing what he loved and left a
wife and two-year-old son without a husband and father. I donít know if
that qualifies him as a kook, but he certainly seems irresponsible.
Coombs said a couple of
other things in the film that didnít endear him to me. The first ďI hate
seeing the people I know die,Ē doesnít set him apart from many people
other than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The second is yet another real
profundity, ďWhatís worse, (dying in a skiing accident) or a car
accident? I think a car accident because skiers die knowing what theyíre
doing.Ē Taking him at his word, that he died knowing what he was doing,
then he died knowing that he was leaving a two-year-old son without a
father. It seems to me that once an adult starts a family, he leaves the
pleasures that threaten the viability of his family behind for the good
of his family. Doug didnít seem to feel this responsibility, apparently
feeling his love for skiing was more important than his responsibility
to his wife and son. So maybe Iím not inconsistent in admiring the
surfers and not these extreme skiers.
These people not only try
to find steep slopes to ski, they also try to find cliffs off of which
they can jump. They take parachutes, strap them to their back, and ski
off the cliff.
There arenít many people
who go in for extreme skiing, so I donít think that there will be many
people who will find this film enthralling. I was looking forward to it.
But there are so many shots of one person skiing down impossibly steep
slopes that the film becomes mundane. Sure, the shots of snowy peaks are
pretty, but, speaking of pretty, they get pretty old after 92 minutes.
Itís not that I donít like
skiing. One of my favorite movies is the Michael Ritchie/Robert Redford
Downhill Racer (1969), a terrific skiing movie about an Olympic
ski racer. I can watch it time and again and enjoy it. This, on the
other hand, put me to sleep.