RIGHT ON THE EDGE OF CRAZY

ON TOUR WITH THE U.S. DOWNHILL SKI TEAM

The 80-mile-an-hour exploits of the US Men's Downhill Ski Team propel this bracing report from Miami Herald staffer Wilson (coauthor, Maximum Morphonius, 1990). Granted unusual access to the day-to-day lives and thoughts of the defiantly ``not normal'' bunch he dubs ``the U.S. Crazy-Ass Get-Out-Of-My-Way Downhill Maniac Team,'' Wilson traces the mostly grueling, often frustrating, and occasionally elating 1991 and 1992 World Cup (or, more aptly, ``White Circus'') seasons. Far from glamorous, despite such glittering surroundings as KitzbÅhel, Val d'Isäre, and Garmisch, the tour, with only one US stop, appears as a grind of unforgiving slopes, jet lag, bad food, poor accommodations, and harrowing rides on narrow mountain roads—all compounded by virtual neglect from the American press. Along the way, there's a lackluster performance in the Albertville Olympics;, the rare racing-related death of an Austrian downhiller; the quiet retirements of two team members who have lost ``the edge''; and the rise of AJ Kitt as an international star. Frequently injured and constantly mired in a battle between fear and the ecstatic pursuit of self-propelled flight, the racers—including Kitt, Tommy Moe, Jeff Olson, Bill Hudson, and Kyle Rasmussen—along with their dedicated, sometimes exasperated, coaches, emerge as compelling, fully realized characters. Skirting none of the rivalry, casual profanity, and youthful high jinks of the tour, and particularly strong on the technical aspects of the sport, Wilson offers a graceful yet rollicking narrative that goes past the warts-and-all mode to create a vivid picture of a world dedicated to controlled excess. An invigorating, world-class ride down some tricky and rewarding terrain.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8129-2144-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

THE RUDY IN YOU

A GUIDE TO BUILDING TEAMWORK, FAIR PLAY, AND GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP FOR YOUNG ATHLETES, PARENTS, AND COACHES

An uplifting guide to sportsmanship. The subtitle says it all.

Using the example of Ruettiger, whose experience as a Notre Dame football walk-on inspired the 1994 film, Rudy, the authors rail against disrespectful behavior in sports, at any level. They argue that kids, parents and coaches are part of a matrix that can either create a joyful youth sports environment, or a nasty stew of overweening pride, gross expectations and antisocial behavior. With an old school bluntness, they plainly state how participants should act: Kids should have a clear sense of what they want to do, develop strategies for achieving their goals, listen and learn, show respect to all, cultivate a strong work ethic, be positive and helpful and trustworthy, and finally, be patient. Parents should be involved, too, but should always "remember to be the adults. Let the kids be kids." This means not projecting your own aspirations onto your children, while encouraging self-esteem and confidence. Coaches must know their sport (even if they are only volunteers), exemplify personal excellence, challenge the kids, earn their trust, be open to feedback and get everyone involved. The authors’ straightforward advice may seem obvious, but Phillips, Leddy and Ruettiger go further, providing solid examples of how to put these principles into practice. And for all the character building, they also appreciate that kids just want to have fun.

A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2005

ISBN: 1-58348-764-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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