Exactly 18 years ago, on the cover date of this issue, Anita Verschoth arrived in New York City from Germany at what was then called Idlewild Airport. Idlewild has since become John F. Kennedy Airport. What Anita has become is an invaluable SI writer-reporter and an American citizen—on July 5, 1978 she went down to the Federal courthouse in lower Manhattan and took the oath of allegiance.
Verschoth arrived in the U.S. with one suitcase, having resignedly abandoned her portable record player at the Cologne airport when Lufthansa declared it too big to carry on and too fragile to check. But she did have a lead on a job with this American magazine, and while she wasn't sure it would work out, she did hope that, as an unabashed sports nut in three languages—German, French and English—she could make it at SI.
This anniversary note is to report that she has, resoundingly. Verschoth is now one of the heavy hitters on our reporting staff, over the years having developed areas of specialization that take her right around the calendar. In winter, she covers speed skating and skiing—even unto performing an acceptable, if wobbly, wedeln on intermediate slopes—and in summer she switches to track and field. When not busy with those sports, Verschoth dabbles in swimming and gymnastics, with occasional side excursions into bicycle racing and, most recently, Grand Prix show jumping—her coverage of the FEI World Cup begins on page 44. We also lean on her during the Winter and Summer Olympics, to interpret, report, check facts and, since 1972, predict the medal winners.
Another of her skills is her ability to interview the likes of Leonhard Stock, Jean-Claude Killy and Billy Kidd simultaneously, shifting linguistic gears while taking it all down in a complex shorthand full of weird symbols that only she can decipher ("Well, most of the time," she says). It was just such a session with Austria's imperious Annemarie Moser-Pr‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√†√áll that produced the remarkable profile on her in our 1980 Winter Olympic preview issue. Moser-Pr‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√†√áll lost six of seven downhill races in a row going into the Games, but the interview gave Verschoth the insight to pick her, nevertheless, for the gold medal at Lake Placid.
After 18 years, Verschoth finally seems to have decided that this job at SI is O.K. Not only has she become a citizen, but she also has had furniture built to fit her Manhattan apartment, giving us the secure feeling that she intends to stay. She is currently channeling her spare energies into running and giving up smoking, being up to five miles a day and six weeks, respectively.
She no longer answers the telephone by saying, "Here is Anita," as in the old days. It is not the custom, she discovered, and it is also, in some circles, no longer the name, either. Somewhere along the line "Anita" got Americanized into "Needer," which is who she now is, and what we now do.
HAVE A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, NEEDER