Long story but had to stay up late last night and use iPad to drain the battery. Chose to watch the 1976 NFB documentary Sword of the Lord. It was really good. I kind of have a Jim Hunter story. A friend actually picked him up at the T.O. airport in ’87 for a talk at McMaster. Said he was really nice. He actually organized the ’88 Olympics torch relay. I had used the flame to relight the stove pilot light so was cooking with the Olympic flame for a while…
It’s almost an hour but is exactly appropriate for what Paul and I are doing. I love the the end sequence. If you give up on watching the whole thing, do yourself a favour and at least scroll through it to see that sequence!
Because he [Jim] wanted to be the best, he sought out the best to learn from and at the time that meant such iconic skiers as Franz Klammer, Jean-Claude Killy and Ingemar Stenmark to name a few.
The next part was what I [skeleton racer Duff Gibson] found particularly extraordinary and at the time I asked him to clarify more than once. What he did was actually go to their home towns in the off season, and literally show up at their front door unannounced. I asked him what he would say as some unknown teenager on the front door step of one of these giants of his sport. He told me he would explain who he was and that he wanted to be a great skier and he asked them if he could interview them and try to learn from them what it takes.
Now apparently he did this on a number of occasions with many of the top skiers of his generation and incredibly he was welcomed in and given valuable information in almost every case. I made him stick around after the radio program for a good 45 minutes so he could tell me more stories about these incredible unannounced visits. The one that sums up his point the best, at least in my opinion, was when he came to knock on Ingemar Stenmark’s door. I gather the man himself answered and after hearing Jim’s explanation as to why he was there, he asked him if he had his workout clothing with him. After indicating that he did, he was told to come around back for a workout they were just beginning.
Jim was able to participate in the session and learned several training techniques the great Swedish champion was utilizing including intervals riding unicycles of various lengths uphill through pylons to build both strength and coordination at the same time. At the end of the training, Jim asked Stenmark very simply, “why did you help me?” His answer, which offers great insight into the way a champion of his stature thinks and is the antithesis of ‘winning by default’, was this:
“I want you to be your best so that if I win I can say I was the best.”
For the latest, here is Jim’s twitter feed.