Vinko Bogataj
Vinko Bogataj is a former ski jumper
Ski jumping
Ski jumping is a sport in which skiers go down a take-off ramp, jump and attempt to land as far as possible down the hill below. In addition to the length of the jump, judges give points for style. The skis used for ski jumping are wide and long...

 from Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

 who became noted on US television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 in the 1970s for a moment of spectacular failure that was featured on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

's Wide World of Sports as the infamous Agony of Defeat.

Agony of Defeat jump

Bogataj was competing as a Yugoslavian
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

 entrant at the Ski-flying World Championships
Ski-flying World Championships
The FIS Ski Flying World Championships is a competition that is held every two years, with the occasional exception. The Championship takes place in big ski jumping hills, with K-spots over 185 meters. Unlike ordinary ski jumping, the Ski Flying World Champion is determined after four jumps...

 in Oberstdorf
Oberstdorf is a municipality and skiing and hiking town in southwest Germany, located in the Allgäu region of the Bavarian Alps.At the center of Oberstdorf is a church whose tall spire serves as a landmark for navigating around town. The summits of the Nebelhorn and Fellhorn provide...

, West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 (now Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

) on March 21, 1970. A light snow had begun falling at the start of the event, and by the time Bogataj was ready for his third jump, the snow had become quite heavy. Midway down the ramp for that jump, Bogataj realized that the conditions had made the ramp too fast. He attempted to lower his center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

 and stop his jump, but instead lost his balance completely and rocketed out of control off the end of the ramp, tumbling and flipping wildly, and crashing through a light retaining fence near a crowd of stunned spectators before coming to a halt. Despite the ferocity of the crash, Bogataj suffered only a mild concussion.

Later life

Bogataj returned to ski jumping the next year but never duplicated the success he had before the crash and retired from the sport competitively (except for occasional senior competitions thereafter). During his career, Bogataj's best career finish was 57th in the individual normal hill event at Bischofshofen
Bischofshofen is a city located in the Salzach valley in the Alps, in the District of Pongau, in Salzburgerland, Austria.The city is an important railway hub and lies at the Tauernautobahn, a highway route through the Alps....

, Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, in 1969 during that year's Four Hills Tournament
Four Hills Tournament
The Four Hills Tournament is composed of four Ski Jumping World Cup events and has taken place in Germany and Austria each year since 1952.The Four Hills Tournament champion is the one who gets the most points over the four events...


Bogataj became a ski instructor, coaching the 1991 World Champion Slovenian ski jumper Franci Petek
Franci Petek
Franci Petek is a Slovenian geographer and former ski jumper. Petek competed from 1990 to 1995. At the 1991 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Petek won a gold medal for Yugoslavia in the individual large hill....

 and supplementing his income by painting, and operating a forklift at a factory.

Minor celebrity status

It is likely that Vinko Bogataj's crash would have remained obscure had a film crew from Wide World of Sports not been on hand to record the event. The show featured an opening narration (by host Jim McKay
Jim McKay
James Kenneth McManus , better known by his professional name of Jim McKay, was an American television sports journalist....

) over a montage of sports clips, and coordinating producer Dennis Lewin inserted the footage of Bogataj's tremendous tumble to coincide with the words "...and the agony of defeat." Throughout the show's long history, various images were used for the other parts of the narration, including for "The thrill of victory...", which directly preceded the above phrase and was often accompanied by images of the celebrating team at the most recent Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 or World Cup. But for those many years after that point, the "agony of defeat" was always illustrated by Bogataj's failed jump.

The melodrama of the narration—which became a catchphrase in the US—and the sympathetic pain of watching Bogataj wipe out week after week, transformed the uncredited ski jumper into an American icon of bad luck and misfortune. Meanwhile, having retired to his quiet, private life in Slovenia, Vinko Bogataj was unaware of his celebrity, and so was quite confused to be asked to attend the 20th anniversary celebration for Wide World of Sports in 1981. He was stunned when other, more famous athletes present, such as Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

, asked him for his autograph
An autograph is a document transcribed entirely in the handwriting of its author, as opposed to a typeset document or one written by an amanuensis or a copyist; the meaning overlaps with that of the word holograph.Autograph also refers to a person's artistic signature...


Today, Bogataj still lives in his home town of Lesce
Lesce is a town in the Radovljica municipality in the Upper Carniola region of Slovenia. It is an industrial as well as a tourist centre.It is one of the oldest mentioned settlements in the region, first noted in a document from 1004 together with Bled and Bohinj...

, Slovenia. He is married and has two daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys woodcarving
Wood as a medium
As a contemporary artistic medium, wood is used in traditional and modern styles, and is an excellent medium for new art. Wood is used in forms of sculpture, craft, and decoration including chip carving, wood burning, and marquetry. Wood offers a fascination, beauty, and complexity in the grain,...

 and painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...



"Every time I'm on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

, I crash."
—Vinko Bogataj, having suffered a minor car accident
Car accident
A traffic collision, also known as a traffic accident, motor vehicle collision, motor vehicle accident, car accident, automobile accident, Road Traffic Collision or car crash, occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction,...

 while on his way to be interviewed by ABC's Terry Gannon
Terry Gannon
Terrance Patrick "Terry" Gannon , is a sportscaster for ABC Sports, ESPN and The Golf Channel. Gannon's work has included an extensive variety of sporting events, including college basketball, as well as figure skating, golf, college football, and the WNBA.-College basketball:Gannon began his...


External links

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