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The most under reported sporting related event of the past 50 years
fjm1151610 March 2011
I consider myself a student of the history of sport. And this is the most under reported event in the history of sports.

Specifically RISE is the story of the lives of the members of the 1961 US Figuring Skating team who perished in an airplane crash on the way to the World Championships. But it is much more than that. It is the story of how these people through the work of their lives and the impact they had on those to follow changed US Figure Skating forever.

The documentary is narrated by many world champion skaters. Skaters whose live have been directly affected by the legacy of the skaters and coaches of the 1961 US National Team.

You don't need to be a skating fan to enjoyed this documentary. You just need to like a good story. And this is a story that needed to be told.
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Somewhat ponderous documentary
Red-12519 February 2011
Rise (2011/I), directed by Nancy Stern, is a documentary commissioned by the U.S. Figure Skating Association. It commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1961 plane crash that killed the cream of U.S. figure skating. The theme of the film is that after the disaster, American figure skating was able to pull itself together and recover from the loss of its best skaters and coaches.

We saw the movie on the day of its release--February 17, 2011. Live coverage of an opening night party at New York's Waldorf Astoria preceded and followed the film. All 13 of the U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Figure Skaters were there, which was an impressive achievement. However, watching a party on a screen, or watching skaters talking about hard work and determination, isn't really as fascinating as watching skaters performing on the ice.

The movie consisted mostly of "talking head" interviews with older people who could have been on the plane, but weren't, and middle-aged skaters who dominated the sport in the last third of the 20th Century-- Dorothy Hamill, Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming, and Scott Hamilton.

Of the people who died in the plane crash, Maribel Vinson Owen received the most attention. She was on the plane in her role as coach for her two daughters. Owen was apparently quite a high-profile athlete and coach, and the film gives her the recognition that her memory deserves.

The problem I found with "Rise" is that listening to people talk and reminisce about skating doesn't compare with actually watching skating. Skating was remarkably absent from the film. The filmmakers included some short clips, but I don't think we saw one complete three- or four-minute program that would have given us an idea of what competitive skating was like in 1961.

If you're a fan of figure skating, as I am, you probably owe it to yourself to see "Rise." However, there's not much in it for people with no particular interest in skating, and I think young figure skaters would be bored by it.

Figure skating is such an exciting visual sport that I wish Ms. Stern had managed to capture it in this movie. There's a great film to be made about U.S. figure skating, but, unfortunately, "Rise" isn't that film.
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