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Who Was That Wide World of Sports Agonized Skier

It was on this day way back in 1961, that ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” premiered.    We used to gather around the television to watch the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”.  The show ran from 1961 to 1998 and was hosted by Jim McKay.  Cable sent it packing. 



So who was that skier who crashed, and what happened to him?  Was he badly hurt? Did he every ski again?


Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images


The skier was Vinko Bogataj.  The day of the infamous fall was March 7, 1970, Vinko and three friends were in Oberstdorf, West Germany for a 120-meter ski flying competition.

It was Vinko’s second jump of the day, (he fell on the first one).  With a fresh coat of snow and strong winds, Vinko started down and for the first four seconds everything was cool, and then it happened!  Just a few feet from the end of the platform, Vinko lost his balance, and he skied right off the right side of the jump, doing multiple summersaults, almost landing in officials, broadcasters, and spectators.

He was not badly hurt.  But because he had a slight concussion, Vinko stayed overnight at a hospital for observation.   He didn’t know it but later that year ABC decided to add the crash to the “Wide World of Sports” opening.

Yes, Vinko did ski again.  Real Clear Sports has an excellent story on him.

The article was written 4 years ago,  Vinko said then he has no issues with his place in American sports history.  He hasn’t spent the last 40 years agonizing about being the “agony of defeat” guy. He only hopes Americans can draw one lesson from his experience: “every time you fall, you have to get back up.”

So what is he up to now?  According to trusty Wikipedia,  Vinko still lives in his home town of Lesce, Slovenia. He is married and has two daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys woodcarving and painting.



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