While training for a ski jumping World Cup in Tauplitz, Austria, last Friday, January 10, three-time Olympic champion Thomas Morgenstern lost his balance midair and suffered a crash that could appropriately be called “agonizing.”
For sports fans of a certain age, the phrase “agony of defeat” is indelibly linked to a single image: Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj rag-dolling spectacularly off the end of the jump at Oberstdorf, Germany, during the 1970 Ski Flying World Championship. Identified by producers of ABC’s ‘Wide World Of Sports’ as the sporting moment that best illustrated the fateful phrase, Bogataj was showcased every single week during the show’s opening montage, which promised to cover both “the thrill of victory” and “the agony of defeat,” Bogataj pasting himself all over a small corner of the German Alps. It ran every Saturday from 1970 through the end of the show’s run in 1998.
Morgenstern’s crash lacked some of the pyrotechnics of Bogataj’s, primarily due to the fact that things went sideways after he’d left the jump and therefore he didn’t have to contend with obstacles such as wood posts and crowds of spectators. He did, however, suffer a bit more than Bogataj, who miraculously escaped with only a concussion.
According to the Associated Press, Morgenstern has injuries to his skull and lungs, but is expected to make a full recovery and represent Austria during next month’s Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.