Headfirst: The Olympic Success Story of Skeleton

Robie Vaughn, Author, Mike Towle, With with Mike Towle. Brown Books $24.95 (242p) ISBN 978-1-933285-08-5

Vaughn tells this tale of the rise of skeleton, the luge-like sledding sport, by focusing on his own Olympic dream and his role in getting skeleton into the 2002 Olympics. By 1994, the author, in his mid-30s and a wealthy oil executive, had given up his hopes of being an Olympian (he was an accomplished mountain climber, triathlete and backcountry skier). But a friend convinced him to try skeleton, and he wound up making the U.S. national and World Cup teams. The author's descriptions of barreling down an icy track at 80 mph, when one ill-advised twitch of the body can send the slider to the hospital, are both harrowing and exhilarating. Vaughn's realization that he wasn't the cream of the skeleton crop came early on, so he turned his attention toward the behind-the-scenes work of pushing skeleton to become an Olympic sport and to the athletes who took over his Olympic dreams. As a former slider and program director for the U.S. Skeleton team, Vaughn is extremely close to the story he's telling, and his opinion is often stated as fact. But his passion for and intimate knowledge of the sport are what make this book glide along so easily. Photos. (Jan. 10)

Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
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