Like hundreds of millions around the world, we watched the opening ceremonies of the London Olympic Games not only to see what Danny Boyle could do with $43-million and a top-hatted Kenneth Branagh, but also because the grand procession of athletes is the final hurdle in our quadrennial wait between each staging of the greatest spectacle of sport on Earth. Now, at last, the games can begin again.
Fitting with the theme of day, for the third installment of our Summer Reading Series we present winners from the category Sports & Recreation, which are available at the National Magazine Awards archive (magazine-awards.com/archive).
1. “The Team that Disappeared” by Brett Popplewell, Sportsnet (2011 Gold winner in Sports & Recreation)
In this terrific investigative article that solidified the long-form chops of the new Sportsnet magazine, Brett Popplewell tells the true story of the greatest tragedy in the history of the sport of hockey–the crash of flight RA-42434 in northern Russia, which wiped out nearly the entire squad of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, one of the country’s premier professional clubs.
The pain of the loved ones left to grieve–including the family of the team’s Canadian coach–as well as the terror of the survivors, the chaos of the scene, the circus of the investigation, and the confusion of the one man who decided not to board the flight that day–all are recounted honestly in Popplewell’s masterful reconstruction of an event that affected countless lives all over the world.
“While the bells rang out above the dead, the phones began to ring. It was morning in North America. Late afternoon in Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Germany, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Czech Republic, as news of the crash reached the families and friends of the men being pulled from the wreckage.” [Read more]
2. “Cycle of Life” by Rich Poplak, explore (2009 Gold Winner in Sports & Recreation)
An ode to a father’s enduring inspiration, Rich Poplak tells the story of how his dad’s passion for the pedal became his own, and how the pain of pushing his body to new frontiers of athleticism ultimately became instructive of the bonds between father and son.
“I once believed that the time I spent in the saddle amounted to nothing more than wasted hours acquiescing to a foolish obsession. This I no longer believe. As I matured as a rider—as piss and vinegar dried up, giving way to the canny wisdom of a veteran—I came to understand cycling as a means of managing will. The paradox of endurance sport is that it becomes about everything besides the body.” [Read more]
3. “High Standards” by Alex Hutchison, Canadian Running (2008 Silver Winner in Sports & Recreation)
Four years ago, just before the start of the Beijing Olympic Games, 7-time NMA nominee Alex Hutchison set out to investigate why the Canadian Olympic Committee had imposed extraordinarily tough qualification standards for the marathon–alone among all athletic events–that resulted in fewer Canadian runners winning the right to compete for their country.
As the Olympics come around again this piece is especially worth revisiting, not in the least because this year, again, no Canadian women qualified for the London Games’ marathon (3 men qualified, marking the first time Canada has had Olympic marathon competitors since 2000; the men’s marathon is August 12).
“Setting appropriate Olympic standards demands that we think carefully about the role of amateur sport in society. Do we want role models, or just medals? Ultimately, it’s a clash between two visions of what the Olympics represent.” [Read more]
Read these articles and more at the National Magazine Awards archive: magazine-awards.com/archive
Kenneth Branagh photo credit: Phil Noble/Reuters; courtesy The Guardian.
“The question distinguishes the essay from the less adventurous forms of expository prose—the dissertation, the polemic, the article, the campaign speech, the tract, the op-ed, the arrest warrant, the hotel bill. Writers… begin the first paragraph knowing how, when, where, and why they intend to claim the privilege of the last word. Not so the essayist, even if what he or she is writing purports to be a history or a field report. Like Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the essayist lights out for the territories, never sure of the next sentence until the words show up on the page.”*
Our summer reading series continues this week with a selection of award-winning essays, all (and more) available at the National Magazine Awards archive (magazine-awards.com/archive).
1. “The Ultraviolet Catastrophe” by Alice Major, The New Quarterly (2011 Gold winner in Essays)
Are the limits of our world finite, or can there be something beyond its edges? Is death a tragedy, or is it merely catastrophic, like the draining of waves of light into a black hole. Alice Major explores what the science of quantum physics can teach her about catharsis following the death of her father, in this essay that preceded her recent book, Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science (University of Alberta Press).
“How can a body be capable of so little and yet a mind be capable of so much? Humans are fascinated by such extremes. This is the material for our stories, the stuff of our legends. We don’t really find the ordinary terribly exciting. We seem to find that such singularities illuminate the human condition.” [Read more]
2. “A 10 Percent World” by J.B. MacKinnon, The Walrus (2010 Gold winner in Essays)
“I speculated in passing that, when seen through the lens of deep time, ours is a 10 Percent World–a blue-green globe that reflects just one-tenth the natural variety and abundance it once did.”
11-time National Magazine Award winner J.B. MacKinnon attempts to untangle prevailing notions of normality in humankind’s understanding of its own impact on the Earth. We tend to err not in our assumption that, previous to the age in which we live, the natural world was comparatively more vibrant and less degraded (though that is not uncommonly a disputed premise); rather, it is the scope of our vision of the past that is limited, perhaps so severely that it begs a completely new set of eyes.
“The purpose of all of this,” writes MacKinnon, “… is not to demand some romantic return to a pre-human Eden, but rather to expand our options. Our sense of what is possible sets limits on our dreams.” [Read more]
3. “The Big Decision” by Chris Turner, AlbertaViews (2008 Gold winner in Essays)
One of Canada’s foremost science journalists, Chris Turner lays bare the case for nuclear power in Alberta–yes, home of the oilsands–severing myth from fact while ruminating on both. Perhaps at its heart, it’s an argument for a badly needed argument, yet without vacillation:
“The most egregious myth, however–the one that could damn Alberta to a nuclear future as the 21st-century economy races greenly past–is the one that says it’s our only choice. Allow me to be exceedingly blunt: that’s just bullshit.” [Read more]
Read these essays and more at the National Magazine Awards archive: magazine-awards.com/archive
Previous editions of our Summer Reading Series: Travel
* From Lewis Lapham, “Figures of Speech” (Harper’s, November 2010, p.7)
Huckleberry Finn illustration from the wonderful 1885 edition of the novel, published by Charles L. Webster & Co, whose illustrations were commissioned of New York artist Edward W. Kemple.
A friend dropped us a note recently from his travels in Austria: “I never imagined this place would be so stimulating: the mountains, the gardens, the café life; even the stodgy old Habsburg homes have some life to them.”
It’s summer, deep summer, which means most of us are either travelling or dreaming of travelling. We of the latter shade perhaps are undertaking dozens of vicarious journeys on Facebook and Pinterest. And whether we’re actually on the road or just imaginarily so, we like our travel reading: none better than the collection of award-winning travel stories at the NMA Awards Archive.
A few suggestions for your summer pleasures and days:
“The Big Blue” by Charles Wilkins, explore (2011 Gold winner in Travel)
Sixteen brave souls, one uniquely engineered rowboat, 5000 kilometres of open ocean. The author–the unsinkable Charles Wilkins, admittedly not the youngest or fittest of oarsmen–spent 18 months training for this record-breaking attempt to cross the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados without the aid of sail or motor. This blogger felt almost guilty reading of this adventure from the comfort of a Toronto patio, as Wilkins dispatched:
“I was cold, I was exhausted, I was starved… What’s more, I had been beaten up–slapped around by waves that sometime before midnight had started coming hard out of the east onto our port flank… At one point, when for the briefest of moments my focus had lapsed (my brain having detoured into fantasies of my former life as a human being), an uncooperative wave had snatched my oar, driving the handle into my chest, pinning me with savage efficiency against the bulkhead that defined the prow end of the rowing trench.” [Read more]
“Walking the Way” by Timothy Taylor, The Walrus (2009 Gold winner in Travel)
A fixture of bucket lists for centuries, Spain’s Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail seems, by the grace of those who walk it, an uneven plane of surrealism, uniting disparate senses of faith and devotion on a single, very literal path. And few writers put pen to trail as evocatively as Timothy Taylor:
“Nobody talks about religion, faith, metaphysics… Nobody says, because not long ago at a party I got into a drunken argument about philosophical materialism–the belief that the only thing that exists is physical matter–and found myself yelling at a woman, ‘Then why are we here? Why are you here?’ Nobody would admit to that. To losing it. To getting belligerent over the possibility of transcendence. Nobody would admit that, because it would indicate that you somehow needed to walk 800 kilometres across Spain.” [Read more]
“St. Petersburg the Great” by Noah Richler, enRoute (2008 Gold winner in Travel)
A mindful travelogue in the modern mold–a studious writer eager to discover what lies beneath; a photographer (Robert Lemermeyer) with a keen sense of place–it satisfies both the memories of those who’ve already been there and the desires of we who long to go. Not just restaurants–ingredients. Not just vodka–conversation. (Not just English–bilingual; it’s enRoute after all.) Richler keeps the reader at his elbow:
“In St. Petersburg, the noteworthy is either tawdry or a few steps underground or magnificent and palatial beyond imagining. It is as if Peter’s lofty dream and the lowly serfdom that made it possible persist in the soul of the city because neither ever existed without the other.” [Read more]
Read these travel stories and more at the National Magazine Awards archive: magazine-awards.com/archive
The Jack Webster Foundation is looking to reward excellence in British Columbia journalism with a series of awards for print, broadcast and online media that is either by BC journalists or for a BC audience.
Entries published or aired between June 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012 are eligible. Entries may be submitted by a journalist or team of journalists working in print, radio, TV, and online media.
The deadline to enter is July 13, 2012. Click here for all the details.
Venerable Cottage Life magazine is holding a series of photography contests this summer, looking for the most exquisite images from your cottage life.
Categories include Action, Life at the Cottage, Landscapes & Nature, and Photos by Kids (15 and under).
One grand prize winner and first-, second- and third-place winners in each category will receive various prizes courtesy of Nikon and Lowepro, plus publication in the Winter 2012-2013 issue of Cottage Life.
The deadline for entries is September 10. Get more contest details here.
Going north this summer? Really, really north? Then hone your photography skills and consider entering Up Here magazine’s summer 2012 photo contest.
There are 4 categories (Science & Nature; People & History; Travel & Adventure; Arts & Culture) and the grand prize is an iPad. Winners (it’s unclear how many) will also be published in the October 2012 issue of Up Here, Canada’s premier outdoor magazine for the north (and a former winner of the National Magazine Award for Magazine of the Year).
The deadline for entries is September 1. Photographs must be taken in Canada’s north (by which they probably mean Nunavut, the Northwest Territories or the Yukon).
For the past decade (yup, this year’s 10th anniversary was a pretty big success) Maisonneuve has been engaging, inspiring, and charming the hell out of readers across the country. Humour, investigative reporting, in-depth reportage, arresting photography, witty opining, psychedelic miscellany and stunning design have all been a part of Maisy’s ten-year haul of 18 National Magazine Awards (and 81 nominations)!
When he took the stage at this year’s gala to receive the Magazine of the Year award, editor-in-chief Drew Nelles had a lot of people to thank and, apropos of the publication he helms, a few ideas and opinions on the landscape of the Canadian magazine industry. (Read a bit of his speech. Read more about Maisy’s success at this year’s NMAs.)
Maisonneuve creative director Anna Minzhulina (3 NMAs and 10 noms) maintains a blog that includes alternate designs of Maisy covers plus a peek into the creative process of conceptualizing the magazine layout.
A recent feature in the McGill News talks about how it all started with Maisonneuve, from founding editor Derek Webster’s vision and all the labours of love that made the mag what it is today. Nelles started as an intern at the magazine, as did two-time NMA winner Nicholas Hune-Brown and a lot of other mag talent.
Find out where you can buy Maisonneuve on newsstands.
Read some of their previous award-winning work in the National Magazine Awards archive.