Before Bode Miller and Big Bill Johnson - the nose-thumbing downhiller who won America's first alpine-skiing gold in 1984 - there was Robert Redford's David Chappellet, a skilled but undisciplined young talent who ignores his coach (Gene Hackman) and ditches the team approach for personal glory. As in the 1972 Redford film "The Candidate," also directed by Michael Ritchie, victory proves to be hollow.
It ranks among the greatest moments in Olympics history: A bunch of scrappy American amateurs, coached by Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), defeats the heavily favored Soviet hockey team en route to winning the gold medal in 1980. Al Michaels, whose call during the game's waning seconds - "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" - rings down through the Olympic ages.
A washed-up hockey player ("King of the Rink," reads the tagline) and strong-willed figure skater ("America's Ice Queen"), both foiled in their quests for gold at the last Winter Olympics, join forces as a pairs figure-skating team. They bicker, he struggles with the "toe pick," she breaks his nose, he drops her, they fall in love - all with the hope of winning it all.
Sure, it's a formulaic film. Yes, it milks the inherent paradox of Caribbean bobsledders good-naturedly trying for their own miracle on ice (the movie's tagline: One Dream. Four Jamaicans. Twenty Below Zero). But the more-or-less accurate depiction of the best human-interest story of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics has charm. The late John Candy plays coach Irv Blitzer - what could be cooler?
Snowboarding is now a fixture at the Winter Olympics, so get stoked with this gravity-defying ride down the rugged slopes of Valdez, Alaska. The documentary (released on DVD Feb. 21) follows five of the sport's fiercest competitors, including Winter X Games champ Shaun White and Oslo's Terje Haakonsen, the Michael Jordan of the wooden plank.