What’s that you say? You’re going through olympic withdrawals already? Well, now that you’re a winter sport enthusiast and aficionado, here are six films to get you through the last of these winter nights without Bob Costas and his crunk eye.
1. Lindsey Vonn: In the Moment
This little piece about skier and Olympian Lindsey Vonn was a bit self aggrandizing. It spends a lot of time trying to convince the audience how humble and hard-working Lindsey is. We’re meant to be quite touched by how loyal Lindsey is to her fans and how she will spend hours signing autographs because she wants to be a hero to children just like Picabo Street was a hero to her. So that’s fine…but honestly kind of boring. Really the things I took away from this docu-special were: 1. Lindsey trains like a beast and sometimes eats nine hard-boiled eggs after going hard at the gym. Literally, there’s a scene where she just gets down on egg after egg after egg. That scene alone convinced me of skier’s athleticism. 2. Lindsey wears lots of eye makeup even on the slopes. I don’t really have an opinion on this cosmetic choice it just struck me as something I needed to mention. 3. If I had a husband who was also my ski coach I would murder him. Especially if this husband used to be a famous skier but now is a has-been and is living vicariously through me every damn day and video-taping all my runs and making me watch them with him while he comments and I’m just trying to catch my breath from performing crazy feats of strength and gravity-defiance…nope, I would have NO patience for that, none whatsoever.
2. The Price of Gold
I can not recommend this documentary enough. If you were alive during the 1994 Olympics you will want to see this in depth account of the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story. Their drama occurred, for me, at the peak of my interest in figure skating, so every subsequent story about them ranked high on the list of news I cared about. Theirs is the classic “competitive women” story we will always be drawn in by; the Betty and Veronica, White Swan and Black Swan, Madonna and Whore. This saga is compelling, as one interviewee explains, because it is “so rich in it’s black and whites.” The documentary features some never before seen home footage of the Harding family. This fascinating reel shows Tonya’s mom in a disgustingly cluttered home clad in a fur coat with a bird on her shoulder. Read that sentence again and tell me you’re not interested?? So Grey Gardens!!! The film goes on to cover the fateful knee clubbing but it was the coverage of the weeks after that I found more interesting–the time between Nancy’s injury and the ‘94 Olympics. The Olympic committee allowed injured Nancy on to the team so both she and Tonya were in hardcore training. The difference in their training was striking. Tonya trained at a public rink in the middle of the mall and the press was EVERYWHERE, hounding her there and at home and on the street. There’s even a shot of Diane Sawyer just chillin’ rink-side, waiting to ask Tonya a thing or two as well as paparazzi setting off her truck’s security alarm so she would have to show her face. It looked like absolute mayhem. Meanwhile, Nancy is recovering and training totally shut off from the outside world. Most notable aspect of this part of the film, however, is that in one scene Tonya is wearing a big white sweatshirt that reads “No Comment”–perfection. God, I love the 90’s. And speaking of clothes, did you know Nancy skated at the public Olympics practice (the one EVERYONE was at because she was on the ice WITH Tonya) in the dress she was wearing when she was attacked? Who was her PR person? A genius, that’s who. In the end, we all know how the story went–Nancy skated a gold medal performance but ended up with the silver. The world had to keep America in check for being goddamn lunatics all the time. And that is why the Olympics is awesome and keeps bringin’ people back. But, keep watching! At about 7 minutes and 30 seconds left, Tonya Harding breaks down and delivers a monologue that is GOLD MEDAL material. It’s possible you will shed a tear for her, the villain of our childhoods. If you like this documentary, and I promise you will, keep your eye out for the theatrical adaptation of the Tonya and Nancy story coming to an off-broadway stage and duo final near you. Co-authored by yours truly and Katie Berger, it’s gonna be game-changing.
3. Ice Castles
Mk, this is basically a Lifetime/Hallmark channel made for TV remake of an old movie about a figure skater who goes blind. It was fine noise to have in the background while I did some work. Occasionally I looked up for the actual skating scenes because the lead girl DOES land some pretty legit jumps. But in all honesty she doesn’t go blind until like over an hour in so *yawn*. I went into this with high hopes because, as I’ve said before, I love when blindness throws a wrench in a sports-movie plot. See also: Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. There just wasn’t enough blindness in this movie for my taste.
4. The Other Side of the Mountain
Dude, I don’t know what it is about movies from the 70’s but they never disappoint for me. Something about the scores and sound effects is so gripping, like they knew they were somewhat lacking in terms of visual artistry and so they make up for it through sound. Not to mention that I covet all the outfits in 70’s flicks. This film is based on the true story of skiing champion Jill Kinmont and the accident she had during an Olympic-qualifying tournament which left her paralyzed from the neck down. You go into the movie knowing she’s gonna take a tumble so I’m not giving any spoilers when I say, the moment of her career ending fall off the mountain caused me to audibly gasp. The score works perfectly in step with the dramatic arcs of the story and there’s even an awesome non-skiing side-plot about Jill teaching on an Indian reservation that I happened to really like. Beau Bridges is totally my new celebrity crush in this movie. He is so charming and funny and such a weirdo! Also of note, I’m currently very interested in the history of medicine so seeing rehabilitative practices from the 50’s for quadriplegia, even fictional cinematic renderings of these practices, was personally interesting to me. I would call this movie a cross between Love Story, The Shining, and Heidi…just trust me, that’s a good thing.
5. Horgasm: A Love Story
Short and sweet, this docu showcases some wicked snowboarding scenes while highlighting the day-to-day life and career of Norwegian snowboarder Torstein Horgmo. At times, it tries a little too hard for the look of an MTV special or Jackass movie. Probably one of the more random things I’ve ever watched on the ‘flix but I certainly didn’t hate it.
6. Chalet Girl
British Rom-Com starring Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick and Bill Nighy. Face it, if this came on cable you would accidentally get sucked in and watch the whole damn thing, so you may as well tuck in and enjoy! (Notice I said “tuck in”…I pick up regionalisms very quickly.)
Enjoy! Sports movies are basically my third favorite genre. Do you have a favorite that I should put in my queue?