Christie Aschwanden (“The Science of Doping,” ) is a contributing editor to Runner’s World and has raced competitively as a skier and cyclist. After years of investigating doping in Olympic sport, she has come to believe that the true victims of cheating are often hidden. “There are a lot of good athletes who left their sport and aren’t even able to enter a race because they said no to doping,” she says. “I think that’s a story that doesn’t get told enough.”
Frank Deford, who began writing for Sports Illustrated in 1961, has been called the nation’s finest sportswriter by the American Journalism Review. The author of 18 books, including a new memoir, Over Time, he is also a commentator on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” After exploring the tumultuous history of the Olympics in London (“Britannia Rules the Games,”), he is excited by the host city’s prospects in 2012. “It was a desperate time for the Olympics itself in 1908, and then for the entire world in 1948, just three years after the war,” he says. “This summer is really the first time that London has the chance to do it right.”
Alison Gopnik (“Why Play Is Serious,”), a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles as well as four books for popular audiences. She is widely known for her studies of cognitive development in children, the subject of her 2009 book, The Philosophical Baby.
Joshua Hammer, the author of three books, has served as Newsweek’s bureau chief in Nairobi, Berlin and Jerusalem. While tracing the winding course of England’s longest river (“Let the Good Thames Roll,”), he found that local residents were just as awed by the river as he was. “It’s a piece of their landscape, but an aesthetically grand one,” he says. “People who live by the Thames seem well aware that they’re privileged—surrounded by both natural beauty and rich historical significance at every bend.”
Sally Jenkins is a writer for the Washington Post whom the Associated Press has twice honored as the nation’s best sports columnist. She is the author or co-author of nine books. Her 2007 The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation told the story of the dominant Carlisle Indians college football squad of 1912, starring the incomparable Jim Thorpe, subject of “The All-American."
Franz Lidz, who has written for the New York Times and GQ, among other publications, says a new opera based on the early cycling hero Albert “Lal” White (“The Rings Cycle,”) brought to mind Samuel Beckett’sWaiting for Godot. “I kept thinking of the similarities between the play’s action and the movement of a bike’s chain and wheels: They’re both exercises in repetition and variation.”
J. Allyn Rosser, the author of three collections of poetry, teaches at Ohio University and is the editor of New Ohio Review, a literary journal. “We’ve all seen couples communicate their displeasure in subtle ways to avoid making a splash in public,” she says of her poem “Summer Olympics Look”. “Maybe there should be a gold medal for that, too.”
Dan Winters is a photojournalist and illustrator. He honed his model-building skills as a special-effects hand on films and TV series, including the original “Battle- star Galactica,” and has since become known for his custom-built constructions, such as the ones he shot for “The Science of Doping.” “These construction pieces are some of my favorite works,” he says. “I built this one with frosted Plexiglas, so I could light it from behind and make the blood really glow.”