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Thread: Naomi Nari Nam

  1. #1
    Champion Skater (Vicariously)
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    Question Naomi Nari Nam

    Does any one know what ever happend to Naomi Nari Nam, She showed such promise and I really though that she would be one of the contenders in the ranks up with Sasha and Arikawa. I heard she had hip problems... can anyone fill me in?

  2. #2
    O&L's #1 Cheerleader brenlynn's Avatar
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    She suffered from a hip injury for several seasons, and last season she attempted at a comeback.

    She finished one spot short at the qualifying event for Nationals, but hopefully next season she will make it back to Nationals so we can all see her skate again! I think a lot of people miss her!

  3. #3
    Tripping on the Podium
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    Yea I hope she makes it too. I've heard alot about NNN but know NOTHING about her! Can someone tell me past results, her style, strengths etc etc Thanks!!

  4. #4
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    She came in second to MK at the 1999 US nationals, and then struggled with conistency after that. I think she withdrew from nationals in 2001 due to her injury.

    Although it's been a while since I have seen her skate, I remember her charlotte spiral was amazing and she had amazing energy.

  5. #5
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    NNN's performance at 99 National was amazing. Sh had power, speed, and artistry for a 13 year old. She had a great spin ability, her layback with attitude leg position brought back the trend, and her bielmann spin was very great.

  6. #6
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    Sometimes I wonder if she would have turned out like Sasha with regard to skating a clean LP. When she appeared to 2000 Nationals, her body had changed a lot and she seemed to be feeling the pressure of being a favorite. I recall fearing for her because of they way she was hurling herself into her jumps and falling on almost everyone one of them during her LP. I think she was in the top 6 and really wanted to prove she wasn't a fluke.

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    At 2000 National NNN skated last and right after Sasha Cohen. That's Sasha's first year as a Senior lady and she had nice performance, good choreography and well packed program. I think all these really posed huge pressure on NNN. So she did not skate as well as she planned. You could see she was so puzzled and surprised on the ice after failing few jumps.

    But I don't think NNN would have Sasha's problem. NNN is much more stronger by natural. I still feel Sasha's problem mainly is because she does not have the natural strength which plays a big role for the success of a skater.

  8. #8
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    Even when NNN didn't skate well in her next nationals, I was really amazed at how much she had improved in her speed and power. I thought she was a better skater than Sasha in that she had deep edges and flowed so well over the ice. I feel really bad for her that Sasha had eclipsed her but she's still skating so hopefully she'll still have money to ride out the injuries and maybe she'll be back at nationals and hopefully worlds and olympic team.

  9. #9
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    NNN's hip injury took her off ice for almost two years. During the time she grew a lot from a young girl to a young woman's body. Since she did not skate much and lacked the repetition on all the triple jumps, so last year at sectional she did not do very well and could not make it to the national. I was hoping she could make it to the national, and compete with Sasha and all the top ladies.

  10. #10
    Custom Title IDLERACER's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    What happened was after winning the silver in 1999, she suddenly grew about five inches within a period of six months, and had a bit of trouble adjusting to the new set of stilts (legs) she was skating on. She and Sasha Cohen (and Tiffany Stiegler) all grew up together in Orange County. If you look at the "Gallery" section on all three of their websites, it's easy to tell what century each picture was taken in. In all the photos dating 1999 or earlier, Nam, Cohen and Stiegler are all the same height. In every photo taken in 2000 or later, Naomi & Tiffany both tower over Sasha, who hasn't really grown more than an inch since her 15th birthday.

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    Increaing the height in a year might hurt the jumping ability if you decrease the training intensity. Most intermediate and above level skaters from major clubs train hard year around, and they grew alot between 12 to 15. I have seen people could not get a jump for long time, but not many who got the jump and then loose it completely as long as they keep practicing it. No matter how much they grow, they move up a level every year with a couple of new jumps, and they do well in the next level.

    Recently I watched a few Michelle Kwan early years' competition programs. When she was 12, she was so little, and just had 2 or 3 triples, by the time she was 14, her height was same as her full grownup height, but she got all her triples in the programs. And also I was so amazed by her speed, power, and amazing jumping ability when she was younger. She had huge true lutz then. She was so talented. If the Olympic was held at 95 or 96, the gold medal definitely belonged to Michelle Kwan.

  12. #12
    Tripping on the Podium
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    I would like to see NNN back at skating. In 2000 she skated with COI at Minneapolis and I got back stage for some pictures with a 1 use camera. There was an Oriental lady there and I asked if she was one of the choreographers. She told me no, she was the mother of one of the skaters. I said Oh, NNN, and she said yes. I then asked if I could get her picture with Naomi when she came through, and her mother said yes.

    Therefore, I did get a picture of them together. Later in the summer I was in Bloomington and stopped at Collins headquarters and showed the pictures to Tom. Since he liked them, I left the second copy of them with him.

    Next year in the 2001 Summer Tour program, there were two of my pictures. One was of NNN and her mother. If you have the program, open it to the center, turn back 3 pages to the More, More, More Behind the SCENES page and you can see it masked with purple, under "the". The caption is off, it was in Minneapolis, not Anoheim. The one of Surya backstage is one of my pictures and it is not in Denver, but Minneapolis. It is on the page before the center page.

  13. #13
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing that cool experience, MinnMan.

    To me, as great as Naomi's 1999 short program was, she topped even that with her exhibition number to "Itty Bitty Pretty One." She officially retired the "cute trophy" with that number!

    Mathman

  14. #14
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    I loved Naomi Nari Nam, too, and at least once a year it seems we get a thread asking about her. I may be seen as the Wicked Witch of the West, but I am as sure as I can be that NNN is never going to be able to return to elite eligible skating, [EDITED TO ADD: meaning qualifying for Nats, making the World team, and finishing in the Top 10 at Worlds. Personally, I don't think she will ever qualify for Nats again.] Her hip injury was too severe and she grew too much.

    To add to the *what happened was* gallery: In 1999, NNN came out of nowhere, almost, at 13 to win the silver at Nationals. She was tiny at barely 5ft, had amazing spins, a layback that made your jaw drop, hit all her jumps except one, and overall had a very energetic style. But what really made NNN a favorite in the hearts of millions was that in her '99 SP [Thanks for the correction egskater] at Nats, she fell on a jump in such a way that the back of her head literally bounced on the ice. It looked bad and the commentators, along with everybody elese I'm sure, gasped when her head hit the ice. NNN was dazed for a couple of seconds and then got back up to finish her LP and win the silver.

    Well, you can't get anymore of a sports fairy tale in real life than that! Cute and beautiful little girl, the underdog, full of energy, lovely skater, doing a great program, then--oh, no! she falls and hits her head! But wow! She gets right back up and skates on, winning the silver. What a gutsy gal! THIS is the kind of champion we want!

    In '99, her SP was "Cirque du Soleil" music (doesn't specify which piece) and her LP was
    "Rachmaninoff." Also, as Mathman said, NNN's '99 exhibition was "Itty Bitty Pretty One," which absolutely brought the house down.

    But when she returned to Nats in '00, Idle is absolutely right. She had grown about 5 or 6 inches and in her LP, she only landed three triples. Heyang said she recalls NNN *hurling* herself into her jumps, which is exactly the word I would use. I feared for NNN during her entire LP because her energy was so manic during all of it.

    In '00, NNN's SP was "Where Eagles Dare," her LP was Saint-Saens' "Rondo Capriciosso," and her exhibition was "Rockin' Robin." Nam had a disasterous LP and ended up finishing 8th. According to About.com this is the Top 9 finish of the ladies in '00. See http://figureskating.about.com/libra.../aa021300a.htm for entire article and Top 9 finishers in each discipline:
    1. Michelle Kwan
    2. Sasha Cohen
    3. Sarah Hughes
    4. Angela Nikodinov
    5. Andrea Gardiner
    6. Stacey Pensgen
    7. Jennifer Kirk
    8. Naomi Nari Nam
    9. Deanna Stellato

    Interestingly, of the above list, within a year after '00 Nats, three of these skaters had to give up competitive skating due to hip injuries. '99/'00 was also when many of the top ladies started putting a lot of training time into doing 3/3s. Those who suffered career-ending hip injuries is a whopping percentage of that Top 9 and should have been a screaming warning to coaches, the USFSA, other FS experts, and physicians who work with figure skaters that something was terribly wrong. Only now, four years later, is the media taking note and reporting on this problem and making the existence of the hinged skate boot known, despite the fact that it's been around since at least '01. When I get worked up about the lack of attention paid to improving FS boots so skaters can do quads and 3/3s with a reduced risk of injury, skaters like NNN and Timothy Goebel are just two of the reasons why.

    As for the pressure NNN was facing, Christine Brennan interviewed Nam and her mother about it for a USA TODAY article that appeared prior to '00 Nationals. See http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olymp...30/ogv3001.htm for the entire article, which also discusses and quotes Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen. But her are a few quotes about Nam (remember, this is before '00 Nats):
    "Nam, one of the cutest little skaters in the world, came out of the blue to finish second to Kwan at last year's national championships. At 13, she was too young to go to the world championships, and had she gone, she would have been soundly beaten by Kwan and the Russians and everyone else with a triple lutz. But that was beside the point. On the ice, the girl looked absolutely adorable. American sportswriters thought so, and so did South Korean-based LG Electronics, which signed her to represent the firm as "a global spokesperson and goodwill ambassador," according to its news release."

    "Fast-forward to today. Although she's had a terrible season by elite skating standards, letting her nerves get to her during 'a disaster' of a performance at a junior-level event in Japan, she has fulfilled the terms of her endorsement deal and has loved every minute of it. She traveled to South Korea for business and was interviewed on television more than a dozen times during that week. She also shot her own TV commercial.

    "Nam went to Germany to appear in a skating show over New Year's and also joined the popular and lucrative Champions on Ice skating tour for 14 shows on the West Coast. She's been featured on the cover of skating magazines. She's long since left public school behind for tutors and home schooling, although she and her mother both lament that decision. On top of that, Nam also has her own Web site.

    "But skating is a business, and it's expensive, and to do it right and defray some of the costs, the Nams believe, you have got to do it this way. Nam's father is an avionics engineer and Nam's mother stays at home with the kids. The sponsorship deal helps considerably, they say."

    "[Re the pressure of giving up childhood:] 'Sometimes I want to go to a friend's birthday party, but a competition is coming up and I can't,' Nam says. 'I can't do anything active. If they're going swimming or to an amusement park, I have to say, What if I hurt myself? At the amusement park, your legs get so tired, so I don't go.'

    'There's too much pressure already,' says Connie Nam, Naomi's mother. 'We didn't expect she was going to take second place (at the 1999 nationals). It was like a miracle. It was too much for her, for one time. I can tell in her face.

    'There's a lot of pressure this year,' she adds. 'So who handles it better can be the winner, right?'"


    Unfortunately, Nam apparently either wasn't able to handle the pressure; the growth spurt was too fast for her body to adjust; the demands of her endorsement deal, COI, and the travel for all of it took its toll; or else a combination of everything caused her to have such a poor showing at '00 Nats.

    But as for a return to elite eligible skating for NNN, IMO, it will never happen. Naomi's hip injury is too severe. She hasn't competed at Nats since '00 and her last good skate at a major competition was Nats '99. I know people love NNN and I loved her too, but unfortunately she is a high-profile example of the physical risks young skaters face in trying to work with outdated equipment (traditional FS boots) and the *you never know* factor of physical growth. NNN is a heartbreaking reminder that if the adults in figure skating don't pay close attention to the kinds of injuries young skaters are experiencing, sooner or later top skaters are going to pay the price.

    All too often, in the early stages of an *injury epidemic,* which I believe FS is in as long as skaters wear traditional skate boots and try quads, quad combos, and 3/3s in them, people around the skaters and skaters themselves tend to blame the injured skater. "He didn't have proper jump technique," they say, or "She didn't work on off-ice conditioning enough." There's also a feeling of, "That won't happen to me [or my child] because I'm doing things right." But when you see the same thing happening to so many skaters, skaters who are doing everything *right,* injuries that have never been seen before in anyone so young, it's time to take the blinders off. It's not the skaters' fault; it's the equipment combined with the increased demand for high-rotation jumps and jump combos. If the USFSA president is going to make a statement saying the US women must do 3/3s to be competitive, IMO he should also make a statement saying that the USFSA will do everything it can to try to support research and development in making better skate boots. I can't see one without the other, or indeed skating rinks will be littered with the bodies of permanently injured skaters.

    My apologies for the soapbox speech, but I get frustrated when people say things like, "I can't wait for NNN make a comeback" or even "I sure hope NNN can return to eligible skating" because I know how serious these hip injuries are. Although it's true NNN was one spot short of qualifying for last year's Nats, she had disastrous programs, only landing a few triples in the LP. Had she made it to Nats, IMO she would have been lucky to crack the top 15.

    Finally, please don't take any of this as criticism of NNN. I found her thrilling and adorable. NNN, IMO, was and is the Great Kwan Hope of many, many figure skating fans. That is, many people saw NNN, loved her skating and her personality and felt, "Oh, she will be PERFECT to follow in Michelle's footsteps!" (or edges). And yes, the NNN we saw in '99 SEEMED like she would have been MK's heir apparent. But NNN had changed A LOT by '00, and I don't just mean physically, although her growth spurt and weight gain was, IMO, a significant factor in her poor showing in '00. The fact is, it's easier to remember NNN as the 4'10, 13-year-old giggly girl with the sparkling smile and believe that we would be seeing that same girl today. But Naomi is 18 now, at her full height and weight. Last year even at 17, she looked and skated nothing like the NNN of '99. Figure skating is a cruel sport that way. So we'll never know how NNN would have done had she not had the hip injury, but it's always easier to believe she would have been amazing than it is to see skaters like Cohen and Kirk work through the very real problems of skating in today's technically demanding world of ladies skating.

    I'm all for remembering what a joy it was to see NNN in '99, but the unfortunate young woman has to move on in life without eligible skating, although perhaps she can do some other kind, and I hope her fans can too. It's awful to see such promise taken away by an injury, but for me, as unpleasant as it is, the causes for these injuries, which are happening to skaters every day, are where I hope people will start to focus and put pressure on the USFSA and ISU to support more research and use of the hinged skate boot. And if the hinged skate boot doesn't help, continue focusing on a solution to the injury epidemic.
    Rgirl
    Last edited by Rgirl; 04-10-2004 at 11:43 PM.

  15. #15
    Keeper of Michelle's Nose berthes ghost's Avatar
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    Interesting article Rgirl, and should be crossreferenced with the "what would you give up" thread, i.e. public school, birthday parties, etc... I still don't understand the "amusement parks tire your legs out" comment. Wouldn't that be more the growth spurts?

    I totally loved NNN, but totally agree that her never being at the top again is a sad "home truth". Now I'll be off before a house falls on me too.

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