Monday, March 28, 2016

Review of "The Fall Line"

Admittedly, I pay very little attention to skiing aside from the Winter Olympics. However, that may change after reading this book as I have a new-found respect for these athletes. After reading about the training they must do as well as what they do to prepare their equipment and handle life, they certainly deserve a lot of respect no matter where they may finish when all the times are calculated at a World Cup event.  Here is my review of "The Fall Line." 

“The Fall Line: America’s Rise to Ski Racing’s Summit” by Nathaniel Vinton

Alpine skiing, Winter Olympics, history

Publish date:
January 4, 2016

400 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

While the biggest attention is given to alpine skiing during the Winter Olympics, this does not mean that the sport takes a break nor does it not have its share of personalities and issues. This excellent book by Nathaniel Vinton will take the reader deep into the world of ski racing and brings to life some of the lesser known intricacies of the sport. 

Even the title brings out this trait of the book. Vinton explains for the non-fan or casual fan what the fall line is: “The path an object would travel if it were free to move on a slope only under the power of gravity.” This is the main goal of the racer – to maintain this fall line through all the bumps, leaps and gates on the course.  The racer’s equipment is critical and Vinton explains why in an easy-to-understand manner.

Equipment and the endorsements by top skiers can cause controversy, and that is only one of a few issues that Vinton covers that the United States Ski Team would face during the run to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.  Vinton covers a wide range of topics that affect the sport, from warm weather to safety netting and fencing to equipment requirements, they all play a factor in helping a racer shave hundredths of seconds off his or her times.

The book is not only a great source of technical information and action on the slopes, it can also read like a character novel, with the two main characters being Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn, the two top skiers on Team USA in the 2010 Games. However, Vinton also writes about other top Americans like Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso. There is also very good writing on the history of the sport and how it has become a national obsession in Austria.  In fact, the book starts off with an excellent recap of Franz Klammer’s exciting downhill win in the 1976 Olympics.

Just reading that passage had me hooked and I could not put this book down. It is one of the most complete books written on the sport. The detail into all aspects, including the psychology of the two main stars, Miller and Vonn, make for terrific reading that no matter how much or little interest a reader has in ski racing. Whether the reader wants drama, facts, or just a good sports story, this is a book to check out.

I wish to thank W.W. Norton & Company for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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