Winter Olympians Ben Agosto and Lowell Bailey

March 1, 2010

gp0310_riffs_lb2_nr gp0310_riffs_ba2_nr

At least a couple of guitarists will be representing the good ol’ US of A at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. When they’re not chasing gold, biathelete Lowell Bailey and ice dancer Ben Agosto are all about wire and wood. —Matt Blackett

gp0310_riffs_ba_nrWhat parallels can you draw between your sport and the guitar?

Agosto: One thing about ice dance that I have always loved is the musicality of the sport. Everything I do on the ice is choreographed to music. Bringing different interpretations of the music to a performance is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the sport. It’s not too difficult to see how that applies to playing the guitar: Notes are one thing, but it’s how they are played, the intonation, the timing, and inflection that make music special.
Bailey: With any instrument, there’s a point where the practice, drills, and scales must be set aside for the real music to shine through. Obviously there is a rhyme and reason to an improvised solo, but it is largely a subconscious act. The same “out of body” experience happens in biathlon. The best shooting performances I have had are precisely when all the conscious motor-memory skill training has been set aside and I operate on a kind of autopilot. It’s the same feeling as playing a solo, watching your fingers move around the fretboard, making music, with you as the “observer.”





gp0310_riffs_lb_nrWhy did you choose your sport when everyone knows the real glory and fame is in curling?

Agosto: Curling gets a bum rap, but at the Olympics in Torino, I got so excited watching the curling unfold on TV in the village. Just wait, curling might take over Vancouver.
Bailey: Short answer: I race around on skis and shoot guns for a living!

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