WINTER OLYMPICS: ON TO INNSBRUCK
Living in practically snowless southeastern Pennsylvania and being an ardent foe of winter and cold weather in general, I had never seen so much as a pair of skis, let alone anyone use them, until Squaw Valley. Even the reams of pre-Games publicity (especially heavy, but very enjoyable on the dazzling Miss Pitou) failed to prepare me for the tremendous impact of that magnificent spectacle, the VIII Winter Olympics, presented so brilliantly by CBS and your fine magazine. For sheer sporting pleasure, this combination of coverage has truly never been equaled, surpassing even the lofty heights attained by TV and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in the Giants-Colts sudden-death game (SI, Jan. 5, 19, '59).
You may be interested in some impressions of a sports lover completely unfamiliar with this type of competition. I thought Heiss and Jenkins were unbelievable, likewise the Canadian pairs skaters. The Russians were just slightly fantastic, and words fail me when it comes to our crazy hockey team (wow!). However, taking nothing away from these and so many more fine performers, my warmest memories were supplied by the exciting U.S. girls' Alpine team. I shall never forget Penny Pitou's dramatic, split-second-too-late runs and her heartbreaking fall; Betsy Snite's awful crash and her sparkling finish in the slalom; Linda Meyers' understandable pole-thumping rage; or that priceless comment from Joan Hannah after her fiasco in the downhill ("I hit the dumb gate").
So, hats off to pretty Penny and company. They have roused in this old warm-weather fan deep appreciation and a new interest in winter sports. So much of an interest, I might add, that I have just opened a special savings account to be used for the express purpose of getting me to Innsbruck in 1964. The intensity of my emotions may seem surprisingly out of character to some of my West Chester friends.
ALICE M. DOUGHERTY
West Chester, Pa.
Your coverage of the Winter Olympics has been nothing short of fabulous. However, there is one statement in your Olympic report (SI, Feb. 29) that really made me choke. Roy Terrell says, "America is a land of green grass and blooming fields, not of ice and snow, and to Americans cross-country skiing is an idiot's pastime."
Come, come now! Surely you can think of a better excuse for the poor showing by the U.S. skiers than that. Or maybe you just don't know your geography. Just for kicks I made a list of all the states which have snow and skiing conditions every bit as good, and in some cases better, than those of Europe, and I came up with 17. Furthermore, those 17 states contain 50 million people, or more than twice the population of all four Scandinavian nations combined.
I believe the poor showing of our North American athletes lies not in our climatic or geographical conditions but rather in our soft way of life. A kid, by the time he is 17, would rather be zinging around in a hot rod than out on the ski slopes. Let's face it, we Yanks and Canucks are just enjoying the good life too much to be worrying about whether or not Russia stalks off with all the honors, which she is well on her way to doing. Unfortunately, this makes wonderful propaganda material for the Russians.
OXYGEN OR PURE GOLD?
Did the chemical symbol O, for oxygen, win the Olympic hockey championship or the hustling American players?
Judging from the way the local press and radio have played up this incident, any number of conjectures are suggested. Why didn't the American coach think of oxygen? The elevation of over 6,000 feet is no secret! Did the Russians let us, rather than the Czechs, in on their secret weapon so they would not look bad at home by comparison with their slaves?
Anything that served to discredit the guts and determination displayed by the American hockey team is, in my opinion, bad taste, stupid and unpatriotic.
•U.S. Olympic Hockey Coach Jack Riley does not ordinarily have his players take oxygen between periods. Said Riley after accepting Russian Captain Nikolai Sologubov's suggestion, "I think the lift was mostly psychological. I know the boys appreciated Solly's gesture." Incidentally, Bill Cleary, who accounted for one goal and assisted for three more in the third period of the clinching game, did not take a whiff.—ED.
YOGA: SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS
Regarding the discussion of yoga exercises, the issue raised by Joe David Brown (Yoga Comes West, SI, Jan. 25) and by B. K. Bagchi (19TH HOLE, Feb. 29) is a twofold one: first, whether it is a scientifically proved fact that yoga exercises exert a demonstrable effect upon the heart; second, if such an effect is demonstrable, what its physiological nature is in terms of accepted concepts of cardiovascular physiology.
In regard to the first question, there is no doubt that yoga breathing exercises can influence frequency of heartbeat, force of cardiac contraction and intensity of heart sounds. The first of these three phenomena can be recorded with the electrocardiograph, the second with the ballistocardiograph, the third with the phonocardiograph. During inspiration, there occurs an acceleration of the heartbeat, a decrease in force of contraction of the heart muscle and an increase in the loudness of the heart sounds. Correspondingly opposite periodicities characterize the expiratory phase.
Bagchi and Wenger reported observations to the effect that during two yoga exercises, uddiyana and jalandhar, heart sounds as well as palpable pulses at the wrists stopped for a few seconds, but that the electrocardiogram did not show changes; in other words, that cardiac impulse formation remained unaltered but that there was an interference with the mechanism by which the impulses elicit mechanical, i.e., hemodynamic action.
That this assumption is not of general validity was shown by W. Hollmann, G. S. Mukerji and W. Spiegelhoff of Cologne ("Stoffwechsel, Atmung und Kreislauf," Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift, 1956), who took electrocardiograms from a yogi who had perfected the respiratory control of his heart to such an extent that he could accelerate, decelerate and even stop his cardiac beat. In this case there was incontrovertible evidence of alteration of impulse formation.
Yoga exercises are so interesting from the point of view of the physiologist because they incorporate unique empirical traditions in a sector of study which has not yet been appropriately analyzed by scientists.
Professor of Physiology
University of Kentucky
•Bagchi and Wenger did not report that the electrocardiogram "did not show changes," but rather that it did not show actual stoppage of the heartbeat. Very definite changes were recorded.—ED.
SNOW BIRDS: PLEASURE IN BEAUTY
What strange impulse would motivate a person into traveling 1,200 miles, enduring hardships and other inconveniences, just for the "pleasure" of wantonly butchering something beautiful (In Search of Snow Birds, SI, Feb. 8)?
•As Virginia Kraft indicated in her article, the sport of hunting rests only 1% upon killing game and 99% on stalking and finding that game in its own element where it, and not the hunter, is at the advantage. "If we had traveled 1,200 miles to 'butcher wantonly,' " says the author, "we would most certainly not have ventured beyond our camp with shotguns, since it would have been easy to use the Eskimo's method |for getting food] of killing off an entire flock with rifles or sticks while they slept on the ground."—ED.
This picture, which was taken on a skiing tour in the Canadian Rockies, will show how close one can approach a ptarmigan before he will take flight. Here in western Canada we wouldn't think of using firearms against a bird that has very limited flying endurance. It would be unsporting.
PAUL L. DOURET
HOW NOT TO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN
Last fall you published a few paragraphs on the tragic death of two students who attempted to scale the Profile face near the Old Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, Sept. 7). You pointed out that knowledge through books of climbing techniques is no substitute for experience, and that courage without proper equipment can be fatal. Your few words, read by your many readers, may have saved lives.
I recently saw Walt Disney's Third Man on the Mountain and was horrified by the realization that this film may be responsible for the death of other courageous but misdirected youths.
I hope that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED can help make the public aware that none of the feats presented in that motion picture should be attempted by anyone.
It appears to me that instead of giving the audience a true appreciation of the hazards inherent in mountain climbing and the skills developed to reduce these hazards (which could be done by an imaginative presentation of true climbing techniques) the producers have ignored the advice of Gaston Rebuffat, their climbing consultant, and filmed a series of ridiculous rock-climbing moves.
The average viewer will not realize that experienced mountaineers never 1) climb alone; 2) climb without upper or lower belays; 3) have more than one man climb at a time when climbers are roped together; 4) use shoulder belays; 5) haul someone up hand over hand.
I hope SPORTS ILLUSTRATED can help undo the damage being done by this picture by publishing this letter.
JOHN R. SCOTFORD JR.
Dartmouth Mountaineering Club
BASKETBALL: MISPLACED STARS?
In a recent article about Georgia Tech basketball (Father Knows Best, SI, Feb. 15) Jeremiah Tax twice implied that Indiana is a hotbed of basketball talent. Believe me, there are many Hoosier fans who could convincingly elaborate on that point.
It seems to me that a national basketball writer, such as Mr. Tax, would do well to develop a feature article that might be entitled "Indiana's Misplaced Stars." In this article he could point out the many Hoosier-born hoopsters who are making the headlines in various parts of the country. Let me show you what I mean!
Perhaps the most prolific reapers of the Indiana harvest can be found in the South. As SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reported, Georgia Tech's Roger Kaiser is one of the most prominent Hoosier talents but certainly not the only one. You could also mention Tennessee's Dalen Showalter, Davidson's Jerry Bussell, Vanderbilt's Larry Banks and Bill Johnson, Tulane's Vic Klinker, Houston's Ted Lukenbill and six Miami (Fla.) boys.
But Dixie has no monopoly on the Indiana boys. Utah State has ridden to a national ranking on the backs of Jerry Schofield and Max Perry; Utah has Joe Morton; Nebraska boasts high-scoring stars Herschell Turner and Albert Maxey; Fordham has pivot ace John Coalmon, and Cincinnati features a fellow named Oscar something-or-other. In case you haven't noticed, this adds up to the fact that five of the current top 10 teams in the nation are led by the "misplaced" stalwarts to which I refer. But this is nothing new. As well as the schools already mentioned, Kansas, Kansas State and several others have long depended upon Hoosier cage stars.
Each year about state tournament time coaches and scouts from all parts of the land descend upon Hoosierland wielding generous scholarships to help lure the stars to their respective out-of-state schools. Indiana's Big Three—Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame—also get their share of the cream, but the boys well realize that they can't all be stars at these schools and thus are attracted to less competitive areas.
If it appears to you that I am just another victim of what some call "Hoosier hysteria" you are absolutely correct. But I seriously doubt if many appreciate the merit of my point.
LIEUT. ROBERT LITTLE, USAF
PTARMIGAN BY THE TRAIL