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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite
Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite
Endurance Films // Unrated // January 1, 2002
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Velogear]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted September 18, 2005 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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The movie

It's one thing to watch athletes on TV or DVD, and admire their strength, perseverance, and skill. But what about behind the scenes? What does it take to become a competitor at the highest levels? What do the athletes go through, not just physically but emotionally, as they strive to be the best? I've always found films that answer those questions to be very interesting, and Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite joins the company of documentaries like The Hard Road and Pro in looking behind the scenes at an interesting sport. In this case it's the triathlon, a relatively new discipline that combines the sports of swimming, bicycle racing, and running into one challenging event.

From the studio of Endurance Films, Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite is a film that's made by people who understand these athletes. The film does a nice job of informing the viewer of what triathlon is all about without being didactic, while also clearly showing an appreciation of the triathletes profiled here. It's a piece that will be interesting to a broad audience, both those who are interested in knowing more about what the sport of the triathlon is about, and those who are already fans of the sport and want to get to know it in more depth.

The film follows the progress of several triathletes as they try to earn spots on the US Olympic team for the 2000 Olympic Games. We get to see them training for their new competitive season, and doing their best to earn the three coveted spots each on the men's and women's triathlon teams. Since most viewers will have little idea of how the Olympians are actually chosen, it's quite interesting to see the level of competition and challenge that goes into just getting a spot on the team. It's a reminder that even the lowest-placed athlete at the Olympic Games is a world-class competitor, one who beat out many other talented and dedicated people to secure a chance to be at the Olympics.

Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite follows one triathlete, Wes Hobson, closely. and touches on various others as the film develops. I liked the focus on the single athlete, as it gives us a chance to really get to know him and appreciate his efforts to get to the top of the sport, and I wish that the film had stuck just to one or two rather than trying to include many others. Still, the film does get us familiar with several interesting figures so we're eager to find out who made the team and who didn't . Another strong point in the film's favor is that it gives an honest portrayal of the ups and downs of the triathletes' journey toward the Olympics: while some have great performances when they need to, others have to face the disappointment of not being able to meet their goals. As an athlete myself, I appreciate the way the film honors all the athletes for their effort and talent, not just the ones who happen to do well in a particular season.

One thing that I wasn't too keen on in the film is the appearance of sponsorship logos superimposed on the corner of the screen at various times during the film. Sure, these athletes are sponsored; sure, these companies helped fund the film, and rightfully they do have a place on the back-cover copy and in the credits. But putting their logos on the screen actually during the film is distracting and detracts from the good impression that's created by the rest of the content.

All in all, Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite is a solid, interesting film. At slightly over an hour, it's briskly paced, and I felt that I'd have enjoyed an even longer version, which is always a nice feeling to have as you walk away from a film. It's engaging both on the human-interest level, as a candid look at the training and lives of the elite competitors in an interesting sport, and as an informative perspective on what the modern sport of triathlon is all about, and what challenges the athletes have in doing their best in it.

The DVD

Video

Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite appears in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The image quality is not the best, but it's watchable. Colors are consistently good, with a nice, natural appearance; the main fault in the transfer is simply that it's very pixellated in medium- to long-distance shots, so the level of detail suffers. Close-up shots look fine, though.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack offers a clean and satisfactory listening experience. The voiceovers and interviews are always clear and easy to understand, and the music is nicely balanced with the rest of the track.

Extras

There are quite a few special features here, adding to the overall appeal of the DVD.

A section of interviews gives us additional footage of Mark Allen, Tony De Boom, Joanna Ziegler, and Scott Tinley, discussing various aspects of the triathlon experience. The clips are interesting for any viewer but will be of particular interest to triathlon fans who know who these athletes are. We also get a three-minute clip of Ryan Bolton's performance in the Olympic Trials from the film, with Bolton providing a voiceover commentary on his experience of the day.

The "Cutting Room" section includes six minutes of outtakes, many of which are extremely funny, along with a few interesting segments that show how a few shots in the film were thought of and implemented. This is definitely worth watching.

Finally, we get a trailer for Triathlon: Racing Faster (which also shows up as a forced trailer before the film starts), and text information on the music score and on Endurance Films.

Final thoughts

Anyone who's interested in the highest levels of athletic performance will find Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite to be very interesting viewing, as it provides a personal view into the lives of professional athletes trying to earn spots on the US Olympic Team. Fans of triathlon will, of course, like it even more; we get to meet some of the current "big names" in the sport and see what their day-to-day training is like, and we get a real sense of what it's like to compete at this elite level. Though the image quality isn't ideal, it's perfectly fine, and the addition of some interesting special features makes the DVD into a more complete package. I'd say this merits a "highly recommended."

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