Thursday, March 7, 2019

This Day in Middle Child History: March 7

      On this day in 1970, former Yugoslavian (now Slovenian) ski jumper and Middle Child Vinko Bogataj crashed, rolled, splayed, and tumbled his way into sports history. The footage of his infamous mis-jump at the 1970 World Ski Flying Championships in Oberstdorf, West Germany, aired every week for decades on the opening of “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” No matter how many times you see it, it's still hard to keep from cringing.

     While “the thrill of victory” was accompanied by various clips over the years, “the agony of defeat” was a constant -- Bogataj remained a steadfast symbol of colossal calamity and disastrous disappointment. He suffered a mild concussion and broken ankle after the crash, not to mention a seriously bruised ego. And to add insult to injury -- pun absolutely intended -- Bogataj was totally unaware of his newfound infamy for more than a decade following his crash.
"I am the greatest... Yugoslavian
ski jumper ever featured on the
opening of Wide World of Sports."
     According to ESPN,  he had no idea he was a sports celebrity and was completely surprised when he was asked to attend the “Wide World of Sports” 20th anniversary celebration in 1981. So just imagine what he was thinking when “he received the loudest ovation of any athlete introduced at the gala, and attendees such as Muhammad Ali asked him for his autograph.”
     Bogataj did return to competition the year after his crash, but sadly his career was all downhill.

How could I let this special day pass without paying a twisted tribute?
That’s right, I could not.

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