Boston Marathon
AP

Boston Marathon documentary to go beyond 2013 attacks

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BOSTON (AP) — America’s marquee marathon is ready for its close-up.

“Boston,” the first feature-length documentary film about the Boston Marathon, is in the works. Its creators say the movie will go well beyond the 2013 bombings to retrace the iconic footrace’s first steps in 1897.

“Over the years, the Boston Marathon has had so many extraordinary stories of people achieving and accomplishing things,” said producer Megan Williams, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker. “It’s like looking at cultural and social change over the last century through the lens of this major sporting event.”

Two feature films (one starring Mark Wahlberg), a stage play and an HBO special also are in production, though they’re all about the 2013 finish line attacks that killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others.

No Boston documentary would be complete without the dark events of 2013. “Boston,” however, will focus less on the chaos than the comeback. The producers had 56 cameras along the course in 2014 for the marathon’s first running since the bombings.

Director Jon Dunham said the city’s determination to take back its namesake race will be a recurring theme in the movie, which was conceived before the attacks.

But the film will be a sort of highlights reel from the 120-year-old marathon, the nation’s oldest. The Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the race, gave Dunham exclusive rights to its archive of photos, video and marathon memorabilia.

“Boston” will tell the stories of some of the greatest marathoners ever to conquer the hilly 26.2-mile course stretching from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to Boston. They include four-time winner Bill Rodgers; Johnny Kelley, who ran 61 Bostons and won two; and Kathrine Switzer, who in 1967 became the first woman to run with an official bib number.

“It’s a huge undertaking. We’ve got 300 hours of stuff we shot, not counting the archival material,” said Dunham, who hopes it will psych up runners like his popular “Spirit of the Marathon” films — cult classics that followed select amateur and elite runners at the 2005 Chicago and 2012 Rome marathons.

Nothing rivals the Boston Marathon in terms of sheer lore, said Tom Derderian, a running coach and author who’s serving as an executive producer, along with 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor.

“The marathon is a mirror in which you can see the reflections of the times in every year,” he said. “For instance, the world of the 1910 Boston was not this world — it featured young men who were considered at great risk of ruining their health by running. That was the essential myth of those times.”

Derderian ticks off other examples: wild speculation in the 1920s that fueled rampant betting on the winner, and unemployed men who ran during World War II in hopes the media attention would help them compete for scarce jobs.

“Boston” also will follow more modern heroes, such as 2014 victor Meb Keflezighi, the first American man to win in 31 years.

But the real star is the race itself.

The movie tentatively is set to premiere in April 2017 in conjunction with the 121st edition of the race. John Hancock Financial, the marathon’s principal backer, has signed on as the film’s title sponsor, though Williams said she’s still working to raise half of the project’s $2 million budget.

In the meantime, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is recording Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal‘s score.

“I’m not a runner and I’m not from Boston,” Williams said. “But I hope our film really captures the uniqueness and importance of the Boston Marathon.”

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Online:

Film site: http://bostonmarathonfilm.com

BOSTON Film Trailer from Jon Dunham on Vimeo.

For Mike Eruzione, Al Michaels, it’s no miracle that 1980 Olympics endure

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Mike Eruzione has been reminded on a daily basis about the Miracle on Ice for nearly four decades. While playing celebrity golf tournaments. At speaking engagements. Or that time he auctioned his jersey and stick from the Soviet game to a 9-year-old boy named Seven.

Eruzione, now 65, likes to open conversations with one anecdote about meeting strangers, which he repeated in a call with reporters last week.

“The stories I hear, 40 years later, it’s depending on their age — I remember where I was when Kennedy was assassinated, I remember where I was on 9/11. I remember where I was when the Challenger blew up. And I remember where I was when we won,” Eruzione said. “And I always say, ‘We? I didn’t know you were on the team.’

“But people felt a part of it. … It’s nice to know that people remember and share some great stories about what we did so long ago.”

The captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team owns a last name that means “eruption” in Italian. Eruzione scored the decisive goal in the U.S.’ 4-3 win over the Soviet Union en route to a shock gold medal during the Cold War in Lake Placid, N.Y.

NBCSN airs a 30-minute special marking the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice on Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. ET. It will feature a conversation between Olympic primetime host Mike Tirico and Al Michaels, the play-by-play voice of the game dubbed by Sports Illustrated the greatest sports moment of the 20th century.

Eruzione has grandchildren now. Three of them skate at the Mike Eruzione Center in his hometown of Winthrop, Mass.

“They don’t even know who Mike Eruzione is,” Eruzione said of the 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds, “but they know about the Miracle.”

All credit to the U.S. Olympic team of 20 players between ages 19 and 25, back when the NHL did not participate in the Olympics. The Soviets were essentially a team of professionals. The nation won the previous four Olympics and throttled the U.S. 10-3 in a pre-Olympic exhibition at Madison Square Garden.

Enter Michaels, calling hockey at the Lake Placid Winter Games alongside Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden. Michaels, then 35, said he was assigned the sport because he had the most hockey experience on the ABC Olympic talent roster — one game. He called the 1972 Olympic hockey final by himself.

Feb. 22, 1980: As the U.S. led the Soviet Union 4-3 and the final seconds ticked down, one word came to mind: miraculous.

“It got morphed into a question and quick answer, and away we went,” Michaels said.

Eruzione said he didn’t learn of Michaels’ call — “Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!” — until two weeks after the Olympics. He didn’t watch the game broadcast until years later.

“I never thought it was a miracle, but it was a catchy phrase and it sounded right,” Eruzione said, noting he preferred Michaels’ call in the final comeback win over Finland to clinch the gold: “This impossible dream comes true.”

Team members since gathered often — to light the 2002 Olympic cauldron in Salt Lake City, for fantasy camps in Lake Placid and for coach Herb Brooks‘ 2003 funeral. Eighteen of the 20 players are scheduled to reunite this weekend in Las Vegas.

Absent will be Mark Pavelich, who was jailed last year on assault charges and ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial. And Bob Suter, who died in 2014 of a heart attack at age 57.

It was Suter’s death that motivated Eruzione and others to commemorate the 35th anniversary together in Lake Placid. It was believed to be the first time all living players were together in Lake Placid since the 1980 Winter Games.

Eruzione said that the 2004 film “Miracle” introduced the team to a new generation. Now at many of his speeches, the majority of Eruzione’s audience was born after 1980.

“I’ll say, how many people watched the movie ‘Miracle,’ and almost everybody raises their hand,” he said. “So I think what the movie did for us as a team was kind of rejuvenated our team as far as people knowing who we were and what we are and what we were about.”

NFL coaches set up “Miracle” viewings for their teams before games. Michael Phelps watched it for motivation at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Phelps told relay teammates, “This is our time,” before they beat rival Australia. An ode to Brooks’ pregame speech before the Soviet game.

Michaels, whose 13-year-old grandson won an October hockey tournament in Lake Placid, said he watched “Miracle” last week for the first time in about a decade. He helped do voiceovers in production more than 15 years ago, though the original Lake Placid audio was used for his signature call.

“The great thing is, in a way, when you watch it back or you watch highlights back, you almost become like in the third person, like somebody else is doing this and announcing this game,” Michaels said. “I exult the way I think most of the country did and do when they see highlights of it. So it’s kind of an out-of-body experience in a way, but it’s a beautiful thing.”

After Eruzione shared his tale of strangers’ memories, Michaels added one of his own.

“One of my favorite stories is Mike Eruzione calling me maybe eight to 10 years ago and saying, ‘The greatest thing about this is every time I come home and maybe I’m a little down, I need a little pick-me-up, I’ll put the tape in,'” Michaels said. “‘Every time I shoot, the puck goes in. It will forever.'”

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Heather Bergsma, world champion speed skater, retires

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Heather Bergsma, a world champion and Olympic medalist speed skater, decided to retire during what has been a two-year break from the sport, according to U.S. Speedskating.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Bergsma said, according to TeamUSA.org. “I’m completely satisfied with how everything went.”

Bergsma, 30, now lives in the Netherlands with her husband, Jorrit, a Dutch Olympic champion speed skater, and son, Brent, who was born in October 2018.

Bergsma converted from inline skating to make the last three Olympic teams. She was the U.S.’ best skater in the 2014 and 2018 Olympic cycles and finished her career with a team pursuit bronze medal in PyeongChang, the first podium finish for U.S. women’s speed skating since the 2002 Olympics.

When Bergsma announced a two-year break from the sport in April 2018, she said she would “see if I have that drive again.”

Bergsma retires as the only U.S. speed skater to earn world titles in three different individual events — the 500m, 1000m and 1500m, between 2015 and 2017 — since the world single distance championships debuted in 1996.

Her best individual Olympic finish was sixth in her first Olympic race — the 500m at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

She also broke the 1000m and 1500m world records on consecutive Saturdays in November 2015. Other skaters since lowered those records.

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