The idea of a special issue on the 1988 Winter Olympics has been a gleam in the eye of a small group of Maclean’s editors for three years. The prospect of devoting a whole issue to the Winter Games in Calgary—with more than the usual time allowed for reporting and writing—proved to be among the career highlights for the key people involved. Managing Editor Robert Lewis took overall responsibility for the project. Senior Editor Ann Johnston, who became the editor of the special issue in May, shaped the entire issue, shepherding it through all of its phases and in our view, at least, produced a spectacular result. Said Johnston: “In the pursuit of excellence, the staff has set the highest journalistic standards. In the end, the experience was exhilarating, a tribute to their talent and commitment.”
Assistant Art Director Giselle Sabatini found that designing the package, using pictures assigned by Photo Editor Marijke Leupen, became more than a full-time job. To obtain what she described as the “look” she wanted, Sabatini worked seven-day weeks with Johnston, Associate Editor Gillian MacKay, Assistant Editor Shaffin Shariff and Researcher Ann MacGregor, often until the early hours of the morning, especially in the closing weeks.
Assistant Editor Danielle Keefler provided early organization of the reporting for the magazine, beginning in
mid-1985. Travelling to East Germany -
to profile speed skater Karin Kania, Keefler said that she was struck by the power of the Olympic movement to cut across political barriers. “Individuals pushing themselves to the limit, rather than the system, is what counts,” said Keefler. Everyone involved, from the many regulars on our masthead to freelance specialists, came away with a better understanding of Canada’s place in the world of amateur sport. Said Shariff: “It is clear from the lineup that Canada has the athletes to match the best in the world.” In a month-long trip through Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, East Germany and West Germany, Staff Correspondent Anthony Wilson-Smith interviewed top athletes, including skating star Katarina Witt and legendary skier Pirmin Zurbriggen. Said Wilson-Smith: “Gold medals are expected, not hoped for. What motivates the athletes is not just a quest for excellence, but also the fear of failure.” Let the reading begin.
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