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Thread: Americans Skating for Other Countries

  1. #16
    Gliding Along dlkksk8fan's Avatar
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    If someone chooses to do that, it's their choice of course, but not one I respect.
    When an athletle makes a choice like that is isn't a matter of not respecting the country that they live in. In the US skating takes a long time to get to the top. And there are a lot of talented skaters to bypass. When a skater that has dual citizenship skates for another country, it is easier to get to the top and be able to represent that county internationally. We have a new ice dance pair at our rink where the girl has dual citizenship. She just switched partners and went from representing the US to representing the Philipines(I think that is the country), because that secures them a national title from that country and enables them to skate at Worlds and Olympics. Much faster then having to wait in the US ranks to get to where they want to be.

  2. #17
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Good for them, DLKK. But what about the ice dancers in who live and train in the Philippines. They hope to make the world and Olympic teams, too.

  3. #18
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emma
    I agree with Joe that it absolutely does not matter at all to me where a skater is from nor which federation/country he/she skates for...i just love watching the skater skate! And in sports, people strategically switch teams all the time with the eye on winning (and yes, making money too)...why shouldn't skaters?

    However, I think I disagree with Joe about how impressive it is that skaters (i take it in the US) are more impressive because they 'do it on their own,' i.e. without state support. There's a little something called class priviledge at work in the US....doesn't help all the economically well off top skaters win, nor are all the top skaters from economically elite or well off parents, but it IS a factor. Certainly a more 'individualized' (if that is a word) factor, but it is as real as state support, just works a bit differently.
    I don't think you understand what I meant. The countries whose Governments support the Sports make sure that the athletes get the best coaches and personal care for their well being. I'm not against this system. In fact I whole heartedly approve of it, especially to help the underpriviliged. The athletes in those countries had the advantage of being selected to train with the best, and there is no cost to the athlete. (But he better win. )

    It takes a very special family without Government assistance to support a child's interest in chamionship figure skating. Peggy Flemming comes to mind immediately. Picture the family being uprooted to spend time in Colorado. Picture the mother sewing that chartreuse dress by hand. It was not an easy life for them. Others also had the same tough going. Much depended on the families.

    Nowadays, if the a skater whose family are of lesser means, looks like he's going to make it, the coach usually gives him at least free coaching. Sometimes a sponsor comes a long. But nothing until he has already achieved a certain prominence. It's still tough for them. So I give praise to these skaters who do not have Government assistance especially if they win.

    Lastly there are the wealthy families and well, you know.

    Joe

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    The other side of the coin is this. When U.S. athletes skate for other countries, that could knock the real skaters from those counties out of contention to go to international events.

    Out of curiosity, does that...or has that...actually happened? Likewise, when people receive US citizenship who weren't 'real US skaters', does that knock 'real US skaters' out of contention? Seriously, I'm asking (my opinion on the matter was best sung by John Lennon...you know, imagine...i'd just like it to be more than a fantasy).

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    I don't think you understand what I meant. The countries whose Governments support the Sports make sure that the athletes get the best coaches and personal care for their well being. I'm not against this system. In fact I whole heartedly approve of it, especially to help the underpriviliged. The athletes in those countries had the advantage of being selected to train with the best, and there is no cost to the athlete. (But he better win. )

    It takes a very special family without Government assistance to support a child's interest in chamionship figure skating. Peggy Flemming comes to mind immediately. Picture the family being uprooted to spend time in Colorado. Picture the mother sewing that chartreuse dress by hand. It was not an easy life for them. Others also had the same tough going. Much depended on the families.

    Nowadays, if the a skater whose family are of lesser means, looks like he's going to make it, the coach usually gives him at least free coaching. Sometimes a sponsor comes a long. But nothing until he has already achieved a certain prominence. It's still tough for them. So I give praise to these skaters who do not have Government assistance especially if they win.

    Lastly there are the wealthy families and well, you know.

    Joe
    Ok...I hear what your are saying and see that we are closer to fully agreeing than not...but I guess I just find myself imagining that Shen and Zhao or Bauil, who lived far from home etc, and had state support, still had it hard....Peggy and her mom had it hard too in a different way; Sasha's family was uprooted too...so i find the differences less and the similiarities more (aknowledging right out that state support is just that, and 'private' support just that, and they are different...but i'm just saying in terms of hard/easy, they both have their hards and easies, and in the end, either system requires hard work, discipline, talent, competitive ability, and some luck; neither system necessarily nurtures all those with the potential talent to realize that talent, etc.)....

    But I do agree that state funding for arts, sports, and education (science, humanities, etc.) are so important, and as we watch, in the US, more and more of what was once 'the public' become private, more and more of the arts, sports, etc. be eliminated from or decreased drastically in size from our national and state budgets...the more distressed i get.

  6. #21
    GOLDEN DREAMS RealtorGal's Avatar
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    The Galit Chait situation is very interesting. She was born in Israel and really it is totally acceptable that she chooses to skate for that country. Skating with Sergei Sakhnovsky, I believe that at every head to head intl. competition she & Sergei always placed higher than then U.S. national champions, Lang & Tchernyschev. What if she and Sergei had skated for the U.S.? Would they have been the national champions? Does Sergei have U.S. citizenship? He, too, lives here. And how would they have fared against the rising stars Belbin & Agosto? And how would being the U.S. national champions have affected their international standing, if at all?

  7. #22
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emma
    Out of curiosity, does that...or has that...actually happened? Likewise, when people receive US citizenship who weren't 'real US skaters', does that knock 'real US skaters' out of contention? Seriously, I'm asking (my opinion on the matter was best sung by John Lennon...you know, imagine...i'd just like it to be more than a fantasy).
    Kristin Fraser (of Palo Alto, California) and Igor Lukanin (of Sverdlovsk, Russia) represented Azerbaijan in the last several World Championships (finishing 13th last year) and also at the 2002 Olympics (17th). Fraser is Lukanin's second American partner with whom he represented Azerbaijan, and before that he skated skated for Germany with a different partner.

    I am not sure what connection Kristin has with this country. At one time their training base was Maryland and their coach was (and still is, I believe) Alexander Shulin. I do not know whether Fraser has ever been to Azerbaijan.

    Here is an article by Barry Mittan about this team, from the Golden Skate archives.

    http://www.goldenskate.com/articles/2002/121502.shtml

    I doubt that Azerbaijan has any other top level ice dancers, so I don't believe that this is a case of taking an opportunity away from another team. Probably not. In fact, I am not sure how much of a figure skating program this country is able to maintain. My impression is that they let anybody skate for them who is willing to, regardless of nationality.

    They are active in the ISU, howerever, sending judges (probably Russian) to various international events.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    It takes a very special family without Government assistance to support a child's interest in chamionship figure skating. Peggy Flemming comes to mind immediately. Picture the family being uprooted to spend time in Colorado. Picture the mother sewing that chartreuse dress by hand. It was not an easy life for them. Others also had the same tough going. Much depended on the families.Joe
    And Kitty and Peter Carruthers' parents drove cars with over 200,000 miles on them, ate countless meals of spaghetti, and generally scrimped along for years to fund their pairs training.

    Michelle Kwan is a wealthy young woman, but she came from a family of just average financial means. In order to finance Michelle and Karen Kwan's figure skating training - which included residing at Lake Arrowhead, their parents mortgaged the family home and went into debt, bigtime.

    A number of top skaters grew up in single parent homes where money just wasn't all that plentiful. I really admire the tenacity and determination they had to see that their daughters and sons pursued the sport they loved.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    I think the point that St. Louis Blues Fan was making is that everyone in America came from somewhere else, even if their ancestors crossed the land bridge from Siberia 20,000 years ago. That should not automatically give a person the right to skate for the country of his distant ancestry.

    Thank you, Larry.

    And Ritymeez, I am not trying to get into any confrantations here, but please re-read my post. I said "almost everybody", not "everybody". There's a diffirence. Furthermore, Irish is not a race - it is an ethnicity. If I offended you, then I apologize. But why does it offend you so? There's nothing worng with being part Irish. I have to say that "most" biracial friends I have are indeed part Irish. They are also either part African, Korean, German, you name it. America is a melting pot, and people do intermarry across cultural, religious and racial lines. Nothing wrong with that.

    Going back to the topic - I don't think that the American skaters who were mentioned above really take away an opportunity from others - the "natives" if you will - because in most of these countries there is no real established figure skating programs (I do think that those that come out of retirement just before the Olympic season do jsut that, but that's a different topic). I can't imagine anybody seriously training in former Yugoslavian states that were in wars during the 1990's. I suspect that both Nina Bates and Trifun Zivanovic have become the national champions by default. I do think, however, that they may inspire somebody from the new generation in these countries to take up skating.

    I guess a good example would be Misha Shmerkin, who was born in USSR and then moved to Israel. He was the first to represent Israel in the winter Olympics (1994 or 1998). Since then a number of youngsters (both Jewish and Arab) have taken up the sport (and a new skating facility has been built in Mettula). Sure, right now most skaters that make it to the big events are either USSR or USA trained, but there is a number of up and coming skaters who were born in Israel.

    Kristen Frazer and Igor Lukanin are a different story! I do not even think that Igor has any Azeri ties. As MM states, it just may be the case of a federation taking just about anybody to represent them. Most otehr inter-national couples have at least one of the partners with ties to the country they represent.

    There is one more American who represents one of the Baltic states, I think it is Latvia. Her name is Clover Zaltzman and she is an ice dancer. But she does skate with a Latvian national by birth.

    Yana

  10. #25
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    Other U.S. skaters who skated for other countries include Yvonne Gomez (for Spain in 1988 Olympic) and David Liu (for Taiwan/Taipai in the early-to-mid 90s, I believe). Both, I believe, competed in the U.S. Championships more than once (not sure on Gomez, but Liu did). However, both have strong ties to the countries they represented, too. Gomez's parents came from Spain (I believe she had dual citizenship) and she has relatives in that country, speaks the language, was married there. David's parents also came from Taipai, and again, he's fluent in the language, spends time working there and is very comfortable (and I think holds dual citizenship, though I'm not sure).

    Also, Jennifer Goolsbee was an ice dancer back in the early 90s -- she competed in the U.S., then her partner retired or something to that effect. She found a German partner and eventually applied for German citizenship and did become a German citizen (I think she was from German ancestry on one side of her family). She really wanted to go to the Olympics, but I think it didn't work out. I recall some problem with the German Federation not wanting to send them (or she hadn't been a citizen long enough or something) for one Olympic set, and then maybe an injury or then didn't qualify for another.

    Competing for another country and/or applying for citizenship in a country that isn't your native land would be, I think, a tough decision and something that would be individual with each person, skater or not. Some athletes do seem to "shop around" for the place that will give them the best chance to achieve their competition-level dreams, which I don't think I'd be comfortable doing, but I guess it's not mine to judge without knowing all the variables that go into these decisions.

  11. #26
    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emma
    Ok...I hear what your are saying and see that we are closer to fully agreeing than not...but I guess I just find myself imagining that Shen and Zhao or Bauil, who lived far from home etc, and had state support, still had it hard....Peggy and her mom had it hard too in a different way; Sasha's family was uprooted too...so i find the differences less and the similiarities more
    Likewise, consider Plushenko, who ended up all alone, on his own, at the mature age of 11...

  12. #27
    Gliding Along dlkksk8fan's Avatar
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    But what about the ice dancers in who live and train in the Philippines.
    There are no senior ice dancers competing as far as I know.

  13. #28
    GOLDEN DREAMS RealtorGal's Avatar
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    American Susanna Driano skated in the Olympics for Italy, winning the bronze in 1978 at the World Championships and placing 5th at Europeans that same year.

  14. #29
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Canadian skaters have gone this route as well. The Duchenays - ice dance team from Quebec skated for France. They figured they would never get a top spot in Canada with B&K always in the limelight. It worked for them.

    We have also had other skaters come here and train and either represent their own country or ours. Takeshi Honda has trained in Canada for years. Right now D&L - ice dance team from Quebec are training in France, but they still represent Canada.

    Tenith Belbin is a Canadian. She is skating in the States with Ben Agusto.

    Nothing new here. Skaters are always looking for partners. Sometimes they have to look abroad.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    I think the point that St. Louis Blues Fan was making is that everyone in America came from somewhere else, even if their ancestors crossed the land bridge from Siberia 20,000 years ago. That should not automatically give a person the right to skate for the country of his distant ancestry.

    If that were the case, Mongolia ought to have a lot of skaters! LOL

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