Picks and Pans Review: The Official 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics Video

updated 01/09/1989 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/1989 01:00AM

The difference between this tape and the previous one is about as different as, well, summer and winter. That's clear from the very beginning as the stirring ABC Sports theme song plays over action footage edited with a real flair for the dramatic. Right away we're into the "Battle of the Brians," Orser of Canada and Boitano of the U.S. Their free-skating programs are shown in their entirety, and commentator Jim McKay doesn't utter a word; he doesn't have to. When Orser stumbles, the crowd's collective sigh says it all. There are also some adroitly recorded tense moments back-ice as Orser and Boitano exchange quick glances at one another before they go on. Then there's the tale of Dan Jansen, the world sprint speed-skating champion from Wisconsin whose sister died of leukemia the day of his first race in the 500 meters. His concentration obviously affected, he falls on the first turn. In the 1,000 meters, four days later, he falls again with only one lap to go. Then there's that daredevil ski event, the downhill, as well as the aggressive style of Italy's Alberto Tomba, who took the gold in both slalom and giant slalom. The complete runs of the top alpine contenders—men and women—are shown. In the ski-jumping competition we go from the soaring record-setting flight of Finland's Matti Nykaenen to England's Eddy "the Eagle" Edwards, whose clunky jumps are intercut with the landing of Apollo 11's lunar module, Eagle. Of course, the climax is supposed to come at the end when Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt try to out-Carmen each other on skates. Their performances are wonderful to see again, but somehow they seem anticlimactic after watching the style and smile of tiny Yakaterina Gordeeva melt the ice—along with the hearts of everybody watching—as she and Sergei Grinkov take the gold in the pair-skating competition. This is exactly the right way to record a historic sports event. And, oh, yes, there are no commercials. (CBS/Fox, $24.98; 800-422-2827)

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