The Stranger Personal Gold Review:
Personal Gold: An Underdog Story
The year 2012 is one many American cycling enthusiasts would rather forget. That was the year the blood-doping scandal enveloped erstwhile hero Lance Armstrong, forcing him to retire from cycling in disgrace and his former teammates to withdraw from that year’s Summer Olympic Games in London. Amid this controversy, however, there was the nearly forgotten Women’s Track Cycling team that picked up the fallen baton for their country, seeking to become the first U.S. team to earn a Women's Track Cycling medal in more than 20 years. This inspiring documentary, directed by Tamara Christopherson (herself a former Olympic athlete) tells the story of four athletes – Dotsie Bausch, Sarah Hammer, Lauren Tamayo and Kirkland, WA native Jennie Reed – who sought glory despite being abandoned by sponsors, who had recoiled from the doping scandals. Their secret weapon, however, was a training technique, dubbed “Data not Doping,” which monitored the athletes’ glucose levels and sleep patterns to determine peak performance. In a story that has been compared to ROCKY and MONEYBALL, as well as to the real-life “Miracle on Ice” 1980 men’s hockey team, this World Premiere of PERSONAL GOLD – Christopherson’s directorial debut – will have you standing in the aisles to cheer on these courageous athletes, held together by little more than blood, sweat, tears – and spandex.
If you like sports documentaries at all, don’t miss this one. The narrative lets a few loose ends flap, but c’mon: extreme underdogs, extreme biometrics, extreme uxoriousness, extreme Yankee ingenuity. Your heart would have to be made of Silly Putty not to beat faster. (BARLEY BLAIR)