Remember ABC Wide World Of Sports' 'Agony Of Defeat' Guy? Ski Jumper Vinko Bogataj Facts

By | September 2, 2020

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Yugoslavian entrant Vinko Bogataj's famous 1970 ski jump on March 21 at the World Ski Flying Championships in Obersdorf, Germany. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

If you tuned in to ABC's Wild World of Sports from 1971 onward, you're familiar with the opening sequence, in which sportscaster Jim McKay touts "the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat." For nearly three decades, "the agony of defeat" was personified by a ski jumper's spectacular wipeout at Oberstock, Germany.

That ski jumper was Vinko Bogataj of Yugoslavia, whose brief presence on the popular show made him probably the most famous ski jumper in the world, or at least to American sports fans. Over the years, different clips were rotated in to the montage to illustrate the "thrill of victory," but Vinko Bogataj's accident remained as the "agony of defeat" through the show's end in 1998. He's the Agony of Defeat Guy, and this is his story.

Flying Into Fame

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Vinko Bogataj, airborne. Source: (Facebook, Vinko Bogataj)

Vinko Bogotaj's rather spectacular crash occurred during the World Ski Flying Championships in Oberstdorf West Germany on March 21, 1970. This unfortunate event would have merely been a footnote in the competition, had ABC’s Wide World of Sports not been present to capture the moment for posterity. The incident also lives on in one of Rich Hall’s Sniglets: agonosis, “the syndrome of tuning in on Wide World of Sports every weekend, just to watch the skier rack himself.”