Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj is the athlete who personified "The Agony of Defeat" by competing in the 1970 International Ski Flying Championship in Oberstdorf, West Germany. The faulty ski jump he had that day would be seen each week in the series' opening sequence. Jim McKay called Bogataj's accident "A performance that, in time, would mean he would appear more often on 'Wide World of Sports' than anyone else." See more »
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition... This is "ABC's Wide World of Sports!"
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I think the mystique of this show can be summed up in two words -- Cold War. There was something about watching a seemingly invincible automaton East German luger, Romanian gymnast or Bulgarian weightlifter in a cold grey socialist setting surrounded by Politburo officials and apparatchniks. It was through sports, moreso than any other medium, that we saw the first signs of chinks and cracks in the armor of communism. Growing up in Texas, there were some sports that you just had no exposure to other than seeing it on the Olympics or WWoS. Now that the Olympics are a polished, packaged, commercialized carnival that would rather show a figure skater warming up than an actual event, I long for WWoS even more. As long as they don't let its production fall into the hands of some Gen-X'er who thinks that graphics and loud music and foul-mouthed snowboarders are the only things the populace are interested in, WWoS could open up to the MTV generation a world that would otherwise go unseen. What person born between 1952 and 1966 couldn't hum the opening song or recreate the angles of Vinko Bogatej's body as he tumbled off the ski jump? What person born after this would even know what ski jumping is -- considering that they only see it on the Olympics, where, in the hands of an American TV network, they only see a ten-minute segment showing the medalists and a mention of the Americans who finished 35th and 47th, respectively? "Enough of that," says Bob Costas, "let's go to the arena and watch Sasha Cohen warm up!"
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