Middlebury

Sports symposium to feature skiing legend Bill Koch Nov. 4

October 25, 2004

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.?Bill Koch, a four-time Olympian and arguably the greatest cold-weather endurance athlete America has ever produced, will headline this year's second annual "Middlebury College Symposium on Inspiration and Perspiration."  This year's topic, sports and innovation, will feature Koch describing his role as a pioneer in skate-skiing, the then-new cross-country technique that helped him capture his medals in international and Olympic competitions in the 1970s and 1980s.

The free-admission evening program-set for Thursday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. in the college's Dana Auditorium-will also feature Jay Parini, a renowned writer and the Middlebury College D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing, who will read a new poem of his on the invention of his favorite sport, basketball.  University of Vermont bioethicist Linda MacDonald Glenn will argue for the genetic engineering of future athletes to improve performance.  Andrea Olsen, Middlebury College professor of dance, will also perform with members of the Dance Company of Middlebury.

The two-hour program will be followed by a showing of the film "Dogtown and Z-Boys."  Narrated by actor Sean Penn, the film won a variety of awards for its depiction of the emergence of modern skateboarding in the swimming pools of 1970s Los Angeles.

"After the success of last year's inaugural symposium, which featured biologist and distance-running champ Bernd Heinrich, we wanted to continue challenging Middlebury's academic and athletic sides to see what they had in common," said author and Middlebury College Scholar-in-Residence Bill McKibben, who organizes the symposium.  "When the topic of innovation came up, we immediately thought of Bill Koch-not only is he the only Nordic Olympic medalist that America has ever produced, but for cross-country skiers, it's like a swimmer meeting the guy who invented the backstroke.  Koch literally changed the sport, making it faster and ushering in a whole new wave of aerobic athletes."

The choice of speaker also honors the college's ski team, who last year managed to win the eastern championships for the first time in 31 years, ending the University of Vermont's chokehold on the event with stirring performances on both the downhill mountain at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl and on the cross-country course at Bread Loaf.  "With Jay Parini, Andrea Olsen, and Linda Glenn, we're encompassing literature, performance, biology, and law-we're trying to make it clear that there's more to sports than the box score," said McKibben.

Middlebury College's Dana Auditorium is in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125).  For more information, contact McKibben at wmckibbe@middlebury.edu or contact the public affairs office at 802-443-5198.

To follow is an events calendar listing:

 

"Middlebury College Symposium on Inspiration and Perspiration:  Sports and Innovation"

Thursday, Nov. 4

7 p.m.

Dana Auditorium, Sunderland Language Center, College Street (Route 125)

Speakers: Bill Koch, a four-time Olympian and the only Olympic Nordic skier the U.S. has ever produced; Jay Parini, a renowned writer and the Middlebury College D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing, will read a new poem of his about basketball; and University of Vermont bioethicist Linda MacDonald Glenn will discuss genetic engineering of future athletes.

Dance Performance: Andrea Olsen, Middlebury College professor of dance, will perform with members of the Dance Company of Middlebury.

Film: The event will conclude with a showing of the documentary film "Dogtown and Z-Boys," narrated by actor Sean Penn, which won a variety of awards for its depiction of the emergence of modern skateboarding in the swimming pools of 1970s Los Angeles (U.S., 2002, 91 minutes, color).

Free

For more information, contact Bill McKibben, Middlebury College scholar in residence in environmental studies, at wmckibbe@middlebury.edu, or the public affairs office at 802-443-5198.

 

-- end --