Norway isn't the only place to find winter sports thrills Going for Gold

February 21, 1994|By Beth Hannan | Beth Hannan,Contributing Writer

Do you love figure skating but are sick of the Tonya-Nancy soap opera? Depressed that we don't stand a chance in hockey? Are 35 skiing events still not enough for you?

Have no fear. Thanks to the wonders of the VCR, you can watch winter Olympics or winter sports any time you want. Just wander into your neighborhood video store and check out these films.

* "The Cutting Edge" covers both his-and-hers Olympic skating. D. B. Sweeney is an injured hockey star who teams up with a difficult figure skater (Moira Kelly) who has a problem keeping partners. Sparks fly in this romantic comedy, but the only violence is in the hockey brawls. This is actually a fair family choice, since there's very little violence and the sex is implied rather than shown.

* "Miracle on Ice" is a TV movie, now on video, about the U.S. hockey team's unexpected victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics. The game sequences are nearly as exciting as the real thing was, and it stars Karl Malden, Steve Guttenberg and Andrew Stevens.

* "Cool Runnings" is the true story (though some film license was taken) of everyone's favorite team from the 1988 Calgary Olympics -- the Jamaican bobsled team. It's yet another overcoming-the-obstacles story, but the talented Doug E. Doug, Leon, Malik Yoba and Rawle D. Lewis play the bobsled team, and John Candy is their coach. This one is still playing in area movie theaters and is not on video.

* "Thin Ice" -- Before Dorothy Hamill and Peggy Fleming, America's ice rink sweetheart was Norwegian skater Sonja Henie. An Olympic medal winner from 1928 to 1936, she became a very successful movie star in light romantic comedies that featured better ice ballets than the Ice Capades. Just released on video, "Thin Ice" is a Cinderella story complete with Tyrone Power as a prince, and the pair had real chemistry. Other just-released Sonja Henie movies are "One in a Million," "My Lucky Star," "Happy Landing," "Everything Happens at Night," "Iceland" and "Wintertime." Cable network American Movie Classics is also currently running some of her films.

* "Slap Shot" -- Paul Newman is the aging player-coach of a minor league hockey team. Struggling to keep from folding, the team begins to play a no-holds-barred game that leads to one violent victory after another. The locker room language and realistic violence mean this isn't a movie for the kiddies, but it's a good choice for hockey fans.

* "Youngblood" -- This story's been told before with other professions -- naive boy tries to improve his life by leaving the farm to join a minor league Canadian hockey team -- but it works here. Rob Lowe looks convincing and fast as the young hockey player, and the game scenes look great.

* "Downhill Racer" has beautiful scenery from the Swiss, Austrian and French Alps, thrilling ski footage -- made possible by a camera attached to a skier's helmet -- and a young Robert Redford. Who could ask for anything more? Well, there is Gene Hackman as the American ski team coach, an interesting story and a nerve-wracking Olympic finale.

* "Better Off Dead" is a very quirky, off-beat teen comedy starring John Cusack as a young man depressed because his girlfriend dumped him. To get even/show off, he wants to beat the local ski champ, who is his old girlfriend's obnoxious new boyfriend. It's often silly but sometimes inspired, such as when the unpaid paperboy chases Mr. Cusack a la various slasher films.

* "The Other Side of the Mountain" is an inspirational look at life, based on the biographical "A Long Way Up." Jill Kinmont was a California girl who was considered a cinch for the 1956 U.S. Olympic ski team until she had a near-fatal accident in the Utah Snow Cup Race. The sequel, "The Other Side of the Mountain Part 2," is about how she found love.

* "Ice Castles" -- The skating version of "The Other Side of the Mountain." A talented farm girl (Lynn-Holly Johnson) becomes America's skating sweetheart and then is blinded by a freak accident. Boyfriend Robby Benson and father Tom Skerritt help her recover in time for the inspiring finale.

* "Club Med" -- There's a reason why Jean-Claude Killy did not become the skiing Sonja Henie despite winning three gold medals in 1968. The cast also includes Alan Thicke and Rita Coolidge. If you enjoy bad movies, this film's for you.

* "Aspen Extreme" -- Two young men become Aspen ski instructors to the rich and famous. Ah, but should T. J. Burke (Paul Gross) take the easy life and be "just a ski instructor" or pursue his dreams? Who cares? This is just a fun no-brainer.

* "For Your Eyes Only" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" -- While neither is really a ski movie, both contain great ski sequences. The former is one of the better Roger Moore James Bond movies due to good direction, no ridiculous gadgets and very good stunts. The latter is often criticized since it stars George Lazenby and was the first Bond movie made without Sean Connery. But with the divine Diana Rigg as Bond's one, true love and the late Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, how bad can it be?

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