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Pain and Glory: Vinko Bogataj

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Obersdorf, West Germany, 1970

Horrific as it appeared, Vinko Bogataj’s crash at the World Ski Flying Championships left him with only a concussion. And yet it forever enshrined him in the collective consciousness as the “Agony of Defeat Guy.” The amazing part is that after returning to Yugoslavia, then still an Iron Curtain country, Bogataj lived in ignorance of the fact that he had become an icon for pain and failure. When ABC did a Wide World of Sports anniversary show, the Slovenian wasn’t quite sure why he had been invited-and was stunned when some of the world’s greatest athletes, including Muhammed Ali, swarmed him for autographs.