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
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.”
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
Bailey: Short answer: I race around on skis and shoot guns for a living!
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