Film pleases former racer

“The Dream Never Dies”

The Dream Never Dies, a recently released film featuring Ken Read and his efforts to win the 1980 World Cup downhill ski crown, was viewed for Champion by former Canadian ski star Betsy Clifford.

Betsy Clifford

Betsy Clifford

To me, The Dream Never Dies is the best ski racing movie ever filmed. It is about a young man with a dream. It shows the hard work he has to go through both mentally and physically to try to achieve his goals. It shows his ups and downs, his greatest moments and his lowest moments. It shows his sportsmanship, his friendships and his abilities. It shows that Ken Read is indeed apart from the rest, that he’s a special athlete who has that little extra to make him greater than the rest.

The movie has a story line from beginning to end, dealing with training to get in shape, the first race, the season progressing, the final curtain. The viewer is kept wondering throughout who will win it all.

Although the focus is mainly on Read, the underlying theme is actually the competitiveness between two downhillers — Read and Switzerland’s Peter Mueller — who were probably the best in the world at the time the film was made (1979-80). You have a constant feeling of apprehension because you don’t know who will come out on top until they have both crossed the final finish line.

The movie creates in the viewer the feeling of knowing exactly how the competitor feels when he is waiting at the finish line to see if he has won or lost. The public can actually get the real feeling themselves— if they take it seriously. They can feel the jubilation of winning or the empty agony of defeat.

I may be a little overdramatic. If that’s the case, it’s because I have had these experiences myself and I relived them when I watched the movie.

The photography caught the action perfectly and the music was appropriate to the moods of the film. And the film makers portrayed Ken Read exactly as he is.

The media personalities in the hot seat segment were also accurate portrayals. They showed the ignorance that is apparent to any person who is in a position to be approached by the press. Sometimes you just can’t believe they really asked you that question and then tried to anticipate the answer in their own words as they are in the habit of doing.

In most cases, the questions Ken was asked by the media were typical questions with the typical attitudes behind the words. Often the media don’t really know what they’re talking about and, in some cases, are shocked when the response isn’t what they expected to hear.

In the movie, it almost seemed that they were deliberately needling Ken with their continuous, pointed questions. Whether they acted as they did for dramatic impact, the fact is that such questions are asked all the time — it is for real!

Ken really laid it on the line. He answered every question from the heart and with complete honesty. He told it like it is, not like what people assume it’s like.

Although Ken is part of a team, you discover that whether he’s on the hill racing, or running, or exercising, he stands alone as do all athletes.

Athletes must be understood and accepted as individuals. They alone are the ones who can do it because once they leave the starting gate, no one else can help them.

The way the coaches come across in the movie is exactly the way they operate in real life. In fact, the movie captured ski racing as it is.

Of course, there are sides that are not portrayed. But on the whole, the movie shows what it is that keeps racers such as Ken Read holding on to that dream. It is only when they lose their dreams that they stop trying and give it all up.

To be in a class above the rest, you have to have self- confidence, ability and strength, both mentally and physically. But what you need above all is an inner spirit that enables you to surpass everything that comes your way.

In my eyes, The Dream Never Dies is a masterpiece. It completely captures the sport, the excitement, the ups and downs, but most important of all — the man, Ken Read, a true champion.

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