KKonas, thanks so much for your post about Christopher's story. He was a very special skater.
Fratianne is one of the most drab and overrated skaters of all time and most certainly was NOT robbed of the 1980 Olympic Gold medal. It is laughable so many of you say you are convinced by what Frank Carrol says, Frank coached Fratianne since she was a little girl and was best friends with her now late mother, so of course he is going to be insanely partial and biased. On most issues I would put alot of stock in his opinion but not in this case. Both he and Linda need to get over it already, it is over 30 years later and both still bring it up all the time. The result was pretty simple, Poetzsch is way better than Fratianne and figures and everyone always knew that. At those Games Poetzsch had a shaky short program, and Fratianne's was much better, but the short program isnt worth as much as figures so Poetzsch still had a clear lead. Their free skates at the Games were basically the same, both did the same two triples, most of the other same elements, and I am surprised Fratianne even won the free skate by as much over Poetzsch as she did (8 judges to 1) but in the end still not enough to make up Poetzsch's figures superiority. The real Olympic Champion of those Games if there werent figures was Biellmann anyway, who is twice a more compelling skater than the drones that are Poetzsch and Fratianne. Fratianne was never robbed of a title she deserved and many times gifts ones she did not, the 77 National title over Burge, and the 80 National title over Marie Allen for instance. She was often overmarked and placed ahead of far more outstanding free skaters in free skating portions of events too- all of Vodorezova, Biellmann, Marie Allen, and Poetzsch (who on the day was better) at the 78 Worlds, a complete joke she won the free skating portion there although thankfully it didnt gift her the title; Watanabe at the 1980 Worlds. Of course Frank was always mum when it came to those cases. Lindas Mom was the worst at the time, complaining endlessly when her daughter lost a single event, and even saying that the judges should be taken to court for the 1980 Olympic result, LOL!
Now as for the mens result at the 1980 Olympics, I am glad for the overall betterment of the sport that the wonderful Cousins won, however taking into account the big figures leads (which was legit, Hoffmann was far superior in compulsory figures to Cousins), and that Hoffmann skated a much more technically dificult long program and Cousins even made a mistake on his hardest jump, Cousins coming from way behind to pass Hoffmann was questionable, and Hoffmann probably should have won. However I am glad it worked out the way it did, as Cousins is a far more suitable Olympic Champion, a skater for the ages.
KKonas, thanks for the insight into Bowman's life.
Pangtongfan, remember how elegant Lisa Marie Allen was? I often wished that she had gotten at least one national championship. She has apparently done some choreography, and I have the vague memory that she also did some competitive horseback riding.
I hadn't remembered that Hoffman had a more technically difficult long program than Cousins, but I remember that Hoffmann wasn't particularly impressive in terms of presentation, while Cousins was wonderful, and Cousins was a direction in which skating should have moved. Hoffmann was just more of the same, only better--what I call one of the "businesslike" champions. I seem to recall that Hoffmann won the Worlds that year, while Cousins never won a Worlds gold, and I think that was about right. I will always have a soft spot for Hoffmann, because as a judge in 1998 at Nagano, he placed Michelle Kwan above Tara Lipinski, presumably on the strength of presentation. He did the same with Oksana above Nancy in 1994.
Actually, I liked Carroll's take on U.S. political naiveté. We can't even get Canada to go along with us.
Which was quite true, by the way. For some reason Canadian judges were always murder on Michelle Kwan.
Frank Carroll was very honest and it's refreshing and fascinating to hear him talk to so freely. But some of his comments don't sit well with me.
There is no problem with admiring Michelle's beautiful skating. I am a huge Michelle fan. But it is very, very disappointing that he couldn't give Irina even a tiniest bit of credit--that she was "not a beautiful skater" and then talking about how mind-boggling it is that she achieved what she did against Michelle Kwan. Irina was a trailblazer for her country and she had unique skills that Michelle didn't have and she left a unique legacy of her own. No, she wasn't Michelle, but just because you're not Michelle doesn't mean you're devoid of ability and skill. Frank gave Tara and Sarah more respect than he did Irina. If Irina lacked such ability and the wins over Michelle were so political (as Frank seems to imply), then I guess Michelle's wins over Irina at Worlds were less meaningful since they came over a skater who didn't offer anything else to the sport.
That's just not fair. Maybe that's what happens when you've been a coach for so long, it's not about being fair, and the politics become such an ingrained part of the process that you forget to separate what's political versus the truth. Frank still views everything through Kwan-colored glasses which is sweet if you're a MK fan but a bit maddening if you're also a fan of other skaters. You believe your skater is the best and if a rival skater from a foreign country knocks her out, then it's political. Of course, if the reverse happens and your skater defeats a skater from another country, then it's fairly won. He talks about how the judges left room for Michelle at the 1996 Worlds after Lu Chen skated, which he told to comfort a nervous Michelle before her FS. He admits that it was a controversial result, but doesn't mention that hey, maybe representing the USA might've helped Michelle versus Lu Chen. Just a bit.
As beautiful as Michelle was and is, she did have weaknesses that gave others the advantage--others such as Sarah, Tara, and Irina. Her Olympic losses weren't just about Michelle not skating freely in 1998 Olympics or not having a coach at the 2002 Olympics. It was about the fact that she didn't have a consistent 3/3 and it wasn't as difficult as the ones they were doing--each time she lost to someone who did have that. But whose fault is that? Maybe no one's fault, but maybe it was Frank's fault. I found the question from Jenny wondering if Michelle couldn't up the technical ante because she was too busy with shows/being on television to be kind of odd, and then even weirder that Frank kind of agreed that "it was a difficult thing" to do with all of Michelle's commitments, and then he sort of wandered off to discuss the 3A that Michelle was practicing as a junior. I don't think Michelle's inability to have a more consistent 3T/3T or a more difficult 3/3 had anything to do with her commitments. The occasional 3T/3T was probably just the extent of her abilities in terms of difficult combinations. Michelle didn't seem to like the flip as she tended to avoid it in the SP for quite some time for a significantly easier toeloop, so how could she have done a 3F/3T?
Finally, there was the very strange comment from Frank not thinking that Michelle ever really intended to compete at the 2006 Olympics and that it was a business decision. At that time, Frank hadn't been Michelle's coach for many years. So that was odd. I actually think it's very realistic that a skater who once made the crazy decision to go coachless at the 2002 Olympics could also make the crazy decision to try and push herself for a third Olympics with the wild hope that she could somehow win the OGM even though her body was literally breaking down at that point. Even though everyone else probably knew that there was no chance that Michelle could win the OGM, Michelle somehow still believed. Michelle's most questionable decisions came in pursuit of the Olympic gold medal. I don't blame her for that, it's only human. I think it was the furthest thing from a business decision, actually. It was a wild and crazy decision. But every day, tons of people throw away money on a wild and crazy chance to try and win the lottery. I think Michelle, against all odds, was trying to win the lottery. And it's sad that it didn't happen and it's best that she ended up withdrawing.
Frank is very biased towards his own skaters and towards American skaters in general. I think he gives Lipinski and Hughes more credit since even though they werent his, and even though they frequently rivalled and beat his (well Tara anyway did) atleast they were American, which is the next best thing. Giving credit to foreigners though, especialy big bad evil Russians or East Germans, much less likely. It is good atleast he acknowledes the 96 Worlds was a controversial result. Not that Michelle winning was a crazy result or anything, she was outstanding there, but it is true many also though Chen should have won. That was the only time he was remotedly objective when one of his own skaters were involved, and it took me by surprise. He even dissed the skating of Yagudin and Plushenko at the SLC Games and tried to imply Tim Goebel was somewhat superior to them, LOL!
Yes it is also true to the person who said dissing Irina just makes Michelle look bad indirectly. If Irina sucks and could only win medals through politics, than the Michelle Kwan era must have totally sucked and she must have had no competition at all, if her best opponent almost her whole career was a no talent sloppy hot mess of a skater only on top through politics. Her competition was so incredibly weak they had to politically invent a rival. So how much is Michelle Kwan's great career and all her wins worth if that is how poor her era and her competition was. Essentialy when he says that, that is what he is implying. Poor Michelle, she deserves better than that.
^ If you listen to the interview, this part of the discussion is very brief, amid many observations and recollections about many topics. Frank Carroll says that Irina Slutskaya was not a "beautiful skater." She wasn't. Janet Lynn was a "beautiful skater". Irina was a powerful skater, a talented skater, a skillful skater, an athletic skater, a crowd-pleasing skater. In the one-word description game that the interview ends with, Frank's word for Irina is "vivacious."
He does say several times that he thinks the United States is bad at playing the political game, and that this has worked to the disadvantage of his skaters over the years in international competition. Lots of people have said that, Tatiana Tarasova and Didier Gailhaguet for instance.
great interview-still crazy for kwan after all. I missed parts tho...does he ever address why MK dumped him? I hope he writes his auto very soon.
Throughout the interview Mr. Carroll emphasized the fact that figure skating is a business. It is his business and his livelihood to coach skaters. Skating was Michelle's business, too. The Kwan family made great sacrifices, even selling their home, to invest in Michelle's career. There have always been rumors that both money and control over Michelle's career were matters of discussion between Frank and the Kwans. Frank mentioned the time that Michelle was offered a great deal of money to compete at Skate Canada. Frank did not want her to go, feeling that she needed to rest her injured foot. She went anyway, without Frank.
Frank revealed in the interview that it is his standard procedure to include a clause in his contracts with skaters to the effect that if they make the team for worlds, then he gets 5% of all the money they make from then on, including endorsements, shows, etc. If Michelle had won the 2002 Olympics she stood to make millions. (She did OK financially anyway. ) He had (has) the same contract with Evan Lysacek.
But not with Denis Ten. Now that Denis is suddenly a factor in the 2014 Olympics, that oversight will be quickly remedied.
Frank also suggested that one reason that Michelle forced herself to go to the 2006 Olympics was because if she made it to the opening ceremonies then Coca Cola would have to pay off on their contract with Michelle. (I still have a can of coke from 2006 with Michelle's picture on it. ) A lot of Kwan fans are protesting this speculation on Frank's part as if it makes Michelle look bad. I don't think so. The USFSA. the television networks, the USOC, everybody and his brother stood to profit handsomely from whatever Michelle could squeeze out of her wracked-up body. More power to her, and good on her for giving Emily Hughes the heads up in a timely fashion.