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Contents:
Program 1016

1. the Louisville Fencing Center
2. the Kentucky Reptile Zoo
3. potter Mitchell Rickman
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Jefferson County

For more information:
Louisville Fencing Center, 546 S. 1st St., Louisville, KY 40202, (502) 540-5004

Producer, videographer: Brandon Wickey


En Garde!

the Louisville Fencing Center

Fencing enthusiasts like to refer to their sport as “physical chess” to emphasize that it’s as much a mental as a physical discipline. That philosophy can be seen in action every day at the Louisville Fencing Center, which offers classes for fencers at all levels and is the headquarters of the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair fencing team.

Overseeing all the instruction is head coach Leslaw Stawicki, former coach of the Polish national sabre team. After one of his fencers won the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the U.S. Fencing Association recruited Stawicki to start a fencing program in Louisville. He has been coaching the Paralympic team since 1996.

Fencing’s roots go back to ancient sword fighting (though the modern sport is a considerably refined version), and it is one of only four sports to be contested in every modern Olympics. Fencers specialize in one or more of three different weapons: the epee, with a bowl-shaped guard and a rigid, triangular blade; the foil, with a circular guard and a flexible, rectangular blade; and the sabre, with an arched guard that covers the back of the hand, a flexible blade, and a cutting edge along one side.

Maestro Stawicki explains some of the different tactics involved and shares his own experiences and philosophies in this visit. We also meet two members of the Paralympic team, Carol Hickey and Curtis Lovejoy. Carol competes in epee and foil. Curtis, a two-sport Paralympian, competes in sabre as well as swimming.

The Paralympics are held a few weeks after each Olympic Games, in the same city. They began in 1960 as a summer event for competitors with physical disabilities. Other qualifying disability categories have been added over the years—though, as with the Olympics, the emphasis has always remained on athletic achievement and the fellowship of competition. Today, both winter and summer competitions are held, with thousands of athletes from around the world competing in dozens of events. The games are organized and regulated by the International Paralympic Committee.

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Powell County

For more information:
Kentucky Reptile Zoo, 200 L&E Railroad, Slade, KY 40376, (606) 663-9160

Producer: Stephen Kertis
Videographers: Phillip Allgeier, Stephen Kertis, Courtney McDowell


Cobras and Pythons and Rattlers—Oh, My!

the Kentucky Reptile Zoo

Just outside Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, you’ll find the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, where visitors can thrill (or chill) to a wide selection of the world’s poisonous snakes as well as alligators, turtles, lizards, and other reptiles. But this unassuming-looking place is much more than a “roadside attraction.” Founder and director Jim Harrison has also turned his lifelong fascination with cold-blooded creatures toward education and research.

Using his own money, Jim started the place (as the Miami Valley Serpentarium) in 1990, in a building that used to be a restaurant. He ran it single-handedly for several years, doing everything from taking care of the animals to selling the souvenirs. But his goal was always to use his institution to educate and to help people. So in 1995, he began a program of “milking” venom from many of the snakes for use in the manufacture of antivenin as well as in medical research. Compounds from snake venom show promise in fighting diseases from Alzheimer’s to breast cancer to lupus.

Jim usually demonstrates the process of extracting venom from rattlesnakes, black mambas, cobras, and other snakes once a day during the summer, when the Reptile Zoo is open daily. It is open weekends only (Friday through Sunday) in the spring and fall and closed from November through February. In 2000, the zoo moved just down the road from its original location to a new 60-acre site where the outdoor exhibits could be expanded into more naturalistic habitats.

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Warren County

For more information:
• Rickman Pottery, 1121 E. 14th Ave., Bowling Green, KY 42104, (270) 782-8550

Producer, editor: Jennifer Belcher
Videographer: David Brinkley


Pottering Around

potter Mitchell Rickman

Our last stop for this edition is in Bowling Green, at the studio of potter Mitchell Rickman. His line of hand-thrown jugs, mugs, casserole dishes, teapots, and other tableware combines form with functionality. Rickman also creates whimsical pieces of ceramic art, such as sun, moon, and star faces that can be hung outdoors or in.

Watch This Story (5:06)


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