by Steve Podborski, Gerald Donaldson
White Circus: A Skiing Life whit the Crazy Canucks
by Ken Read, Matthew Fisher
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|SPORTS & LEISURE
by B.K. ADAMS
In the past ten years, the biggest sporting story in Canada was the success of the "Crazy Canucks," those brash skiiers who hurled themselves down icy slopes in quest of the World Cup. For a few years, so it seemed, Canadians dominated the downhill; in the process, Ken Read and Steve Podborski became household names, national icons. Now in knee-mangled but youthful retirement, they compete once again, this time on bookstore shelves.
Both Read and Podborski were chargers on the mountains, driven by competition, always pressing the limits. These were the defining characteristics and key ingredients in their World Cup successes. Not surprisingly, their respective stories often overlap and echo one another. But different personalities shape different books.
Read's account of his downhill days is, true to form, extremely articulate and circumspect, sincere and statesmanlike. It offers along the way some serious reflection on the politics and financing of skiing, the media, and the nature of competition; in fact, While Circus very often reads like a series of perceptive essays. In vivid contrast, Podborski is more open and mercurial, sharper and more intuitive about the people and events around him. This helps to impart depth and sensitivity and as a human portrait of the sport, Podborski's is the richer and more detailed. It is interesting as well to read two versions of the "falling out": their relationship, while respectful, cooled just as Read's career wobbled and Podborski's soared.
A few years ago psychologist Howard Gardner argued brilliantly in Frames of Mind that there were many types of "intelligence" and that one of these was the "bodily kinesthetic." His theory springs readily to mind in reading these books: there is indeed something quite remarkable about this sort of skiing ability. Both - but again Podborski more than Read - are effective in relaying as best the page can the actual experience. and mental processes of a downhill run. With these two books, the weekend Adler, terrorized by even the most gentle undulation, can. feel something of what it's like to shoot down the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuhl.