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Dick Button wins second Olympic figure skating gold

Dick Button wins second Olympic figure skating gold


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On February 21, 1952, men’s figure skater Dick Button wins his second Olympic gold medal. Button captured his first gold prize at the 1948 Olympics, becoming the first American to ever take home the men’s title. After dominating men’s figure skating at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, Button retired from amateur competition and later became one of the sport’s leading television analysts.

Richard Totten Button was born July 18, 1929, in Englewood, New Jersey. He began skating as a boy and went on to win numerous titles. At the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Button landed the first-ever double axel jump in competition and beat his Swiss rival Hans Gerschwiler to take the gold. He was the youngest man to capture Olympic gold in figure skating and the first American to do so.

Button dominated the sport that year, winning the U.S., North American, European and World championships in addition to the Olympics—the only person to accomplish this feat. On February 21, 1952, at the Olympic Games in Oslo, Norway, Button captured the gold again, landing the first-ever triple loop in competition and beating Austria’s Helmut Seibt. He won the national and world championships that year as well.

Button retired from amateur skating in 1952 and went on to perform with the Ice Capades as well as graduate from Harvard Law School. Additionally, he became a figure skating commentator and has covered the sport for ABC. Button was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1976.


A Post-Plushenko Champion: Hanyū Yuzuru Wins Figure Skating Gold

On February 14, figure skater Hanyū Yuzuru delivered a Valentine’s Day present to millions of fans watching him compete in the men’s free skating competition in Sochi, Russia: Japan’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the men’s event. Just 19 years old, Hanyū came into his own just as the great Russian skater Evgeni Plushenko, 31—identified by the young Japanese skater as a hero and inspiration—announced his retirement from the sport he has dominated for years.


Meet American Dick Button, the Only Other Man to Win Back-to-Back Figure Skating Golds

By Rachel Lutz &bull Published February 1, 2018 &bull Updated on March 19, 2018 at 1:15 pm

When Dick Button was 12, someone told him he’d never be a good skater. Button’s father overheard these comments, and encouraged Button to train harder and work with new coaches.

Button eventually teamed with legendary coach Gustav Lussi and earned a place among Olympic and U.S. figure skating history.

Until Yuzuru Hanyu did it Saturday, no other man had repeated as Olympic figure skating champion since Button in 1952.

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"Bravo Hanyu, Records are made to be tie[d]," Button tweeted.

But Button wasn't just the first man to win back-to-back gold medals, he was the first U.S. men’s figure skater to win any Olympic medal. And he was the first man to pull off several jumps and other figure skating elements that have become standard for athletes today.

Button entered the 1948 Olympic Games as the 1947 Worlds silver medalist — the last competition he would ever lose. At Worlds in 1947, he introduced his “Button camel,” or what’s now referred to as the flying camel, practiced by hordes of skaters today.

He also took the title at the 1948 European championships, the last year the competition was open to non-European athletes.

His gold medal performance at the 1948 Olympics included the debut of a double axel, which Button became the first man to land. Aged 18 years and 202 days, Button was the youngest men’s figure skating Olympic champion — a record that still stands today.

“In winning first place and the gold medal in singles Richard Button accomplished something that no United States skater had ever done before, and his performance should be considered one of the outstanding achievements of the Games,” wrote team manager Harry N. Keighley in the official U.S. report of the Games.

The report also detailed the challenges that the rink presented. Figure skaters were scheduled to compete after hockey games, and no manpower was left to resurface the ice before their competitions. There were also problems with the record player and sound equipment, Keighley wrote, and practice sessions were infrequent and inefficient.

Button would win seven national titles and five consecutive Worlds titles in his career. While training for the 1952 Olympics, he attended Harvard College (he later graduated from Harvard Law) and commuted on breaks to training centers in Lake Placid, New York.

At the 1952 Olympics, Button became the first athlete to land a triple jump of any kind: the triple toe loop. He was awarded his second gold medal under a unanimous vote.

Button skated in shows and formed his own production company once he turned professional. He acted in movies, television specials and plays, which he also produced. His broadcast debut was at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics and that career spanned decades. He was inducted into both the Olympic Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Games, Button told The Los Angeles Times of the Olympic spirit: “Ultimately, there will be a moment or a performance that will arise and will lift your heart, and that's what counts. In this world, if your heart gets lifted, even for a brief time, it's well worth it.”


Winter Olympics: Hanyu wins second figure skating gold

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Move over Dick Button, you have company atop the Olympic men's figure skating pantheon: Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu.

Hanyu became the first man to successfully defend his Olympic title since Button in 1952. He held off countryman Shoma Uno and Spain's Javier Fernandez in Saturday's free skate.

Fernandez couldn't match Hanyu, and Uno finished the day by moving up from third to second overall, loading a high-scoring quad and three triples into the final minute of his routine.

Bravo Hanyu, Records are made to be tie

&mdash Dick Button (@PushDicksButton) February 17, 2018

American Nathan Chen surged from a fiasco of a short program, when he was 17th, by winning the free skate by more than eight points over Hanyu to wind up fifth overall.

As always, Hanyu skated to raucous support from the crowd , with thousands of Japanese mini-flags displaying the rising sun filling the stands. And, as always, he was terrific, though not perfect, particularly messing up a combination jump.

And, yes, always, he left the ice to a swarm of cascading Winnie The Pooh dolls flooding the ice.

His 206.17 points in the free skate, second to Chen's 215.08, gave him 317.85 total.

He defends his title in men's figure skating one month after returning from injury. #WinterOlympics https://t.co/fmMl0C4Amf pic.twitter.com/8bZglSdgaR

&mdash NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 17, 2018

Uno might have won the gold if not for his magnificent countryman. His energy throughout, particularly in the back end of his routine to Turandot, permeated the arena, and he pumped his arms wildly when he finished. His 202.73 points gave him a total of 306.90.

Fernandez, skating to Man of La Mancha, was a worthy medalist, finishing just 1.66 points behind Uno after a free-skate score of 197.66.

With Yuzuru Hanyu winning gold and Shoma Uno taking silver, this marks just the fourth time that a country has gone 1-2 in men's figure skating at the #Olympics.

2002 - Yagudin/Plushenko (Russia)
1956 - Jenkins/Robertson (USA)
1908 - Salchow (!)/Johansson (Sweden)

&mdash icenetwork (@icenetwork) February 17, 2018

Chen rocketed up the standings with an historic routine featuring six quad jumps only he had done as many as five in a program.

Chen, 18, said he had succumbed to the pressure and massive expectations in the short program a day earlier. In the free skate he nailed virtually every element. He even did the sixth quad, a loop, getting full credit for the four rotations though he put his hands down on the ice on it.

"As much as I tried to deny it, I think I did feel the pressure a lot before the short program — especially thinking about medals and placement and all of that – things that were completely out of my control," Chen said. "That just tightened me up made me really cautious out on the ice, and that's not the right way to skate.

"I think after having such a disastrous short program and being so, so low in the ranking — lower than I usually ever am — it allowed me to completely forget the results and focus on enjoying myself out on the ice, and getting rid of expectations helped a lot."

He led all three U.S. skaters into the top 10. His 215.08 points for the free skate were a personal high.

Chen's 17-year-old teammate, Vincent Zhou, put down five quads in another spectacular jumping show. Zhou also soared in the standings, going from 12th to sixth.

"It's been such a wild ride over my short 17 years," Zhou said. "I've been through so much, it would take me hours to say it all. But to skate like that, to have a successful performance means so much to me.

"Nothing like anything I've ever experienced before."

Adam Rippon doesn't do quads, but his mesmerizing presentation and dramatic flair earn him points. The 28-year-old dropped from seventh to 10th, but these were successful Games for him.

"It has been surreal," said Rippon, who took equal pride in the achievements of teammates he regards as his "sons."

"This whole entire Olympics experience has been more than I could have dreamed of."


Japan Society to Host Online Event with Ando, Sato, Miyahara, Nagasu

The Japan Society in New York City will present an interactive, online discussion with world champions Miki Ando and Yuka Sato, as well as Olympic medalist Mirai Nagasu on June 29 (9:00 AM June 30 in Japan), it announced recently.

“The Inside Edge: Skating Champions from Japan and the U.S.” will be moderated by Olympic and world medalist Nancy Kerrigan.

The panelists will discuss a variety of topics, including training and competing in both countries the athletic mindset and resiliency in overcoming challenges super fans and the popularity of the sport in Japan and life after competitive skating.

What makes this event especially unique is that fans will have the opportunity to ask live questions to the panelists. Fans can register for free at japansociety.org.


The Richard T. Button Trophy Room

As a two-time Olympic champion, five-time World champion, three-time North American champion and seven-time U.S. champion, Richard (Dick) Button has set a standard for the sport of figure skating that few will ever come close to meeting. Apart from his success on the podium, his innovation on the ice was something to behold. Dick was the first skater to land a double Axel the first skater to land a triple jump the first male skater to perform the camel spin, and he is the inventor of the flying camel spin. In addition, Dick Button didn’t just add to the history of American figure skating, he helped create it. Dick was the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating the first American to win a World Championship (1948) the only American to win a European Championship (1948), and he is the only male skater to simultaneously hold the Olympic, World, North American, European and National Championship titles.

To that end, it is with great pride that The Skating Club of Boston is establishing the Richard T. Button Trophy Room to honor one of the greatest athletes in the history of the Club and the sport of figure skating. The Richard T. Button Trophy Room will honor, celebrate and perpetuate Dick Button’s legacy, a career that exemplifies the personal strengths and qualities that are fundamental to almost every champion and lead to longstanding success: passion, discipline, integrity, and joy in the process.


Dick Button

Richard Totten "Dick" Button (born , in , ) is an former and a well-known long-time skating analyst.

Button was a two-time Olympic champion (1948 and 1952) and is credited as having been the first skater to successfully land the jump in competition in 1948, as well as the first triple jump of any kind -- a triple -- in 1952. He also invented the flying , which was originally known as the "Button camel". Soon after, Button's father sent him to New York to take lessons from ice dancing coach . He trained over the summer in , eventually switching on Carroll's recommendation to coach , who coached Button for the rest of his career.

In his first competition, the 1943 Eastern States Novice Championship, he placed second behind . He became, and remains, the youngest man to win the Olympic gold in figure skating. Button went on to the 1948 World Championships, where he faced Gerschwiler for the last time. Button won the event. At the time, the U.S. Championships were held after the World Championships, and Button finished his season by defending his national title.

In February 1948, Button, his coach, and his mother were in to perform an exhibition. They were stranded there after the uprising and had to be extracted by the . After graduation, he was admitted to the bar in .

In 1975, Button married figure skating coach , but they later divorced.


Button suffered a serious head injury on July 5, 1978 when he was one of several men randomly ed in by a gang of youths armed with baseball bats and tree branches in a incident. According to reports in , Button had been jogging in the park near his home and was attacked while he was watching a dusk fireworks display. The assailants were later apprehended.


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When Dick Button was 12, someone told him he’d never be a good skater. Button’s father overheard these comments, and encouraged Button to train harder and work with new coaches.

Button eventually teamed with legendary coach Gustav Lussi and earned a place among Olympic and U.S. figure skating history.

Before the 1948 Olympics, no U.S. men’s figure skater had ever won a medal. Button entered those Games as the 1947 Worlds silver medalist – the last competition he would ever lose. At Worlds in 1947, he introduced his “Button camel,” or what’s now referred to as the flying camel, practiced by hordes of skaters today.

He also took the title at the 1948 European championships the following year, the competition was closed to only European athletes.

His gold medal performance at the 1948 Olympics included the debut of a double Axel, where Button became the first man to land the jump. Aged 18 years and 202 days, Button was the youngest men’s figure skating Olympic champion – a record that still stands today.

“In winning first place and the gold medal in singles Richard Button accomplished something that no United States skater had ever done before, and his performance should be considered one of the outstanding achievements of the Games,” wrote team manager Harry N. Keighley in the U.S.’ official report of the Games.

The report also detailed the challenges that the rink presented. Figure skaters were scheduled to compete after hockey games, and no manpower was left to resurface the ice before their competitions. There were also problems with the record player and sound equipment, Keighley wrote, and practice sessions were infrequent and inefficient.

Button would win seven national titles and five consecutive Worlds titles in his career. While training for the 1952 Olympics, he attended Harvard College (he later graduated from Harvard Law) and commuted on breaks to training centers in Lake Placid, New York.

At the 1952 Olympics, Button became the first athlete to land a triple jump of any kind: the triple toeloop. He was awarded his second gold medal under a unanimous vote. No man has repeated as Olympic champion since Button, but Yuzuru Hanyu, the 2014 Olympic champion from Japan, could contend for his second gold in PyeongChang.

Button skated in shows and formed his own production company once he turned professional. He acted in movies, television specials, and appeared in and produced theater. His broadcast debut was at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics and spanned decades. He was inducted into both the Olympic Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Games, Button told the Los Angeles Times of the Olympic spirit: “Ultimately, there will be a moment or a performance that will arise and will lift your heart, and that’s what counts. In this world, if your heart gets lifted, even for a brief time, it’s well worth it.”

Button live-tweeted the 2014 Olympics (the 88-year-old is on Twitter @pushdicksbutton) but doesn’t plan to do so for PyeongChang. He doesn’t watch a ton of skating these days. However, he said in a media call that he is enamored by Javier Fernandez’s theatrical skating. At the end of the day, though, he said the man who will win the Olympic title is the one who does the best and most quadruple jumps.


Episode #73: Dick Button

February 2014
An interview with the legendary Dick Button. What hasn’t he done? He’s practically the father of our sport (if Jackson Haines were Grandfather). The two-time Olympic Gold medalist invented many of the jumps and spins we see today, and he invented figure skating commentary. He’s a skater, producer, commentator, actor, truth-seeker, hall-of-famer, stirrer-upper, and figure skating’s biggest fan. This episode focuses on his new book Push Dick’s Button, a fantastic book that is a really wonderful conversation on skating. 55 minutes, 51 seconds.

With Dick Button and Doug Wilson

Thanks to Fiona McQuarrie for transcribing these interview highlights:

AM: Allison Manley
DB: Dick Button

AM: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Manleywoman Skatecast. I’m your host, Allison Manley, and this is Episode 73, an interview with Dick Button.

That’s right! You heard it, here it is! Any longtime fan of my podcast knows I have been chasing this interview for years. Years! And it only took writing a poem, some polite stalking, a pinch of begging, and quite a bit of persistence and tenacity — and let’s face it, it doesn’t hurt that he was trying to spread the word about his new book. All I know is that I’m thrilled to have been finally able to interview him. So, in case you don’t know his many accomplishments, I’m going to list them off first.

Here is the general overview of what Dick Button has done for this sport. He was the first skater to have won the men’s novice, junior and senior titles in three consecutive years. He was the first skater to land a double axel. He was the first skater to land a triple jump, which was a triple loop, and the first male skater to perform a camel spin. And he was the inventor of the flying camel spin, also known as the Button camel. He’s the only American to win the European title. He’s the first American world champion, the first American to win the Olympic title in figure skating, the first and only American back-to-back champion. He is the first and only American skater to simultaneously hold all of the following titles: national, North American, European, World and Olympic. That’s five. He’s the youngest man to win the Olympic title in figure skating, at age 18, and it shocks me still that this record stands today. He is the winner of the Sullivan Award. In the 1960s he began doing television commentary, and has been gracing our television sets for decades since. He was inducted into the World Skating Hall of Fame in 1976, which was the initial class. He won an Emmy Award in 1981 for outstanding sports personality/analyst. He was a producer of skating shows including The Superstars, which was the first of the reality shows. He starred in movies and on television, and on the stage.

The autobiography he wrote in 1955 is a fount of knowledge, and is incredibly well written. I highly recommend that you all find a copy and give it a read. And, of course, he is the author very recently of Push Dick’s Button, a fantastic book that is a really wonderful conversation on skating.

Dick and I decided to do this interview in two parts. The first will be focused on his book and all the ideas within. The second part will focus more on his career and life in skating, and will follow at a later date to be determined. Anyone who knows my podcast knows that I’ve been dying to capture his voice on tape for the fans. So, ladies and gentlemen, may I present — Dick Button.

AM: All right, Dick Button, are you ready?

AM: So, thank you so much for your book. It’s wonderful. I have to ask, why did you write it at this time?

DB: And my question to you is, what do you mean by “at this time”? Are you saying that I’m a very old poop [laughs] and therefore don’t have any understanding of what the hell is going on in today’s world? Or are you asking it because it’s been a long time since I have written? I wrote a book in 1952 or 1954, when I was a very young person, and then I did one other paperback kind of book a couple of years later. I don’t understand the question “at this time”? I mean, what does that mean? Am I missing something?

AM: I guess it is curious that it has been such a long time. I do actually have the book from the 1950s, and I think it’s interesting that the book that you chose to release now, rather than being a biography or an autobiography, is such a conversational book. So I suspect that you felt the need to have this conversation, so that’s why I’m asking. Is skating frustrating you to the point where you felt like you had to tell these opinions?

DB: I’ll tell you what it really is. Number one, it was in the past exceedingly difficult for me to write. The advent of the computer and the lectures that I give on gardening introduced me to an entire new way to write. If you write on your computer, you can erase things, you can change things, you can move things around, and you don’t have to rewrite painfully every single word. So the system and the ability to write was exceedingly pleasant. Then I also have a very good friend who had gotten me a major contract ten years ago, that was with Simon and Schuster, and I had a great opportunity to write a very good book at a very high-priced contract. And that was at the same time that I had gone skating on New Year’s Eve, and fell and fractured my skull, and got concussions and lost the hearing in my left ear. And I also had a co-writer with me, and it didn’t work. We just didn’t work out. In other words, it was too much. I couldn’t handle it at that time. It took me about two or three years to really get my act together and to recoup from that fall.

So the important thing was, this same lady, who is a great friend of mine and who got me that contract, her name is Pat Eisemann-Logan — I finally said to her, Pat, what can I do for you? And she said, I’ll tell you what you can do. I would like it if you would come and sit on the couch next to me and tell me what the heck is going on with what we are watching. So I sat down one day and I just wrote out a couple of things, a few chapters, and she said, yeah, that’s terrific. And I love it because, number one, it doesn’t have to be The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire of Skating. It is a simple conversation. Conversations are meant to be interrupted, to have answers, to have somebody kvetch about it. Conversations can range from any subject to any subject, and that’s why I like the idea of this. I did not want to do a history of skating, which others have done before this, and I did not wish to do a biography. I think there’s far too much more of great interest around the world of skating. I wanted to do what subjects came up to my mind, what it is to watch for at the Olympics, and most of the questions you’ve asked me about this are all in that book. So it was a very pleasant experience for me, I enjoyed it no end, and I’m happy to have done it and done it the way I did.

Although I will tell you that there are three books that you write and three skating programs that you skate and three pictures that you paint. They are, number one, the book you plan, number two, the book you do, and number three, the book you wish you’d done [laughs]. So if you can put up with that, you’re a good gal.

AM: It does seem to have worked out that this is the book you wish you had done. You seem very pleased with it.

DB: Oh, yes, but there’s a lot of things that I . . . listen, if I had started with all the things I made notes of, I would have had six more volumes [laughs]. I don’t think so.

AM: Well, I do love the fact that even though it’s not biographical, that you have a lot of sprinklings of your history in there. I mean, I think that’s a great addition to the opinion pieces that are in there, because there’s definitely opinions in there as well.

DB: Well, it’s a conversation. It covers whatever’s on your mind. The one chapter that many people have criticized, they say, we know what jumps are, you don’t have to put a chapter in there saying the different jumps. But my doctor said to me, “Dick, my daughter skates and we all really like watching the skating, but I can’t tell one jump from another, how can I do that?” And it annoyed him. So I put in this brief explanation, if you don’t know what a jump is, there’s three or four or five or six pages of it, and if you already know which jumps are which — skip over it! This is not the end of the world book. This is not the end of the world subject. It is a conversational piece. And I hope like the devil that people can figure out that they can learn something from it. Because I enjoyed very much doing it.

AM: Well, great. And I do want to ask you some questions about it, obviously without giving away too much, because people should buy it and read it, of course [laughs].

DB: [laughs] Well, we don’t have long enough on this conversation, so go ahead and spring your questions.

AM: Well, one of the things you are concerned about is losing the theatrical part of skating. And I wonder, from a competitive standpoint, how you think it can be preserved. There are a lot of people trying to preserve it outside of competition, but in the competitive arena, what are your thoughts on that?

DB: Let me also start out by saying that competition, the Olympic Games which we’re about to start into in another day or two — they get the most audience. Figure skating and dancing, they’re kissing cousins, and figure skaters have the opportunity to become instantly famous and household names. Dancers don’t have that. So if a figure skater has that opportunity, and the Olympic competition is there, it’s marvelous that they take part and do it. However, figure skating is a complete sport. It’s a sport that has music, choreography, costuming, performance level, story level — it has so many different aspects that are intimately intertwined with each other. Figure skating is theatre, and I don’t care who tells me that it’s not. The head of the ISU, the head of the Olympic Committee, and a lot of guys get all honked about it and say it’s not a sport. Well, don’t watch it! If you think it’s not a sport, don’t watch it, and I couldn’t care less. However, the point is very simply that it is all of these things. It is theatre, it always has been theatre, and it will always continue to be theatre. And that is the very reason that makes it so popular at the Olympic Games.

Now the reason I’m saying this is, there’s an old saying that Oleg Protopopov used to tell me all the time, and that was, “Deek! Deek! You cannot have artistry without technique. But neither can you have technique without artistry”. The old votes, the old judging system had two marks. They were for technical merit and for artistic impression. The new marks, in essence, if you really want to see what the icing on top of the cake is, the subterfuge of it all, is they have all the marks that you get on your point system first, and then they have the component scores. Have you ever read the component scores?

DB: Then you know that they mix together choreography, step sequences, footwork, et cetera, et cetera, and they have something like 27 or 28 different criteria to figure and allot to a skater’s program within about two seconds. That’s almost an impossible thing. And also, you will never know what it’s about because it’s secret. All I’m saying is that yes, there are many other organizations — there’s Disney on Ice and Stars on Ice and individual singles skating here and there, and there’s ensemble skating with the Ice Theatre of New York, and there’s synchronized skating, and there’s all kind of things. But it’s the theatrical performance level that mesmerizes us. I mean, why did we look at Katarina Witt? Not only was she sensational looking, but she had personality and pizzazz. Let me ask you a question. Why is Evgeni Plushenko such a hot subject? I’ll tell you why. Because he has personality. He’s a great jumper, not a great spinner. But he has personality. He has pizzazz. And you can’t take your eyes off him, watching what he’s going to do. He will bamboozle you with his wrist movements . . .

AM: He’ll make you think he’s skating with those wrist movements [laughs].

DB: Of course, I’ve seen him do that half a dozen times. He stops and does a bunch of fancy wrist movements around his belt line, and that’s supposed to be great theatrical skating or something. Let me tell you something. Who is it that you want to watch at this Olympic Games? Who is it they are looking forward to watching?

AM: Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

DB: You mean you want to see the competition between them.

AM: The competition between them, but I think both are so wonderful. They bring something so different.

DB: Absolutely right. And so do half a dozen of these skaters. I think what you really want to see also is [Meryl] Davis and [Charlie] White and how they impact the show. And who do we remember out of the past? Come on, you remember the stars that had pizzazz, that had presence, that grabbed you. There’s a whole chapter in my book there about entrances and exits, and it’s all about the difference between an Irina Slutskaya entering the skating arena — the first thing she does is skate over to her coach, takes a swig of water, high fives her coach, and adjusts the pants on her dress. And the next thing she does is blow her nose. Now, come on, is that theatre? That’s not a humdinger of an entrance. The point is that, how does Katarina Witt do it? She doesn’t lose for one moment the presence, the theatre aspect of it. And the gal we remember most of those two has gotta be Katarina Witt. And that’s why there’s a chapter in the book called “Where Are You When We Need You, Katarina Witt?” And . . . what else can I tell you? [laughs] This is my favorite rant.

AM: You’re passionate and I love it. I love every minute of it.

DB: Well, come on, you know, it’s a fun activity. It’s a very complicated activity. It has so many elements to it that you simply cannot avoid any one of them. And the level of performance is one of those characteristics.

AM: Yes. Well, you are a vocal critic of the judging system, but I am curious because you have said that there are parts of it that you think are worth preserving. What parts would that be?

DB: Well, for example, I think you should always have a markdown if you fall. Right now what we are seeing is — how many people fell in the last [2014] National Championship, both men and women, in the different parts. How many people fall down?

AM: Not a lot this year, actually.

DB: Well, Ashley Wagner, she did. But you’re being rewarded if you do a quadruple jump and you fall down but you’re rotated almost enough to complete the thing in the air. This is all part of Ottavio Cinquanta’s desire to — if he had his way, he would not have any judges there at all, and it would all be based on points and timing.

I would like the fact that there would be no reward at all for a fall. And a deduction if you fall down. I write about this in my book, there was a communiqué from the ISU explaining what falls were. You don’t know what a fall is, I don’t know what a fall is, certainly. But this rule came out and then three months later, there was — I mean, the question was, what part of the body was the fall on, was it on your bottom, was it on your core, and if you were on your fanny, were you on one buttock or another buttock or were you on both buttocks [laughs]. And then along came three months later this explanation, this clarification, and then changes to the rule that explained what a fall was [laughs]. So you have to read all that to understand the sense of the nit-picking.

Now listen, let me tell you something else, and I write about this in the book . I challenge you to count — take one of the ladies anywhere, not necessarily Ashley Wagner, but start with a young lady and start counting the number of times when they’re doing step sequences and all of those wonderful things, where they raise either one or the other or both arms over the level of their shoulders. And if you start counting, my bet is that you will get to 20 very, very quickly, and then you can stop. They’re like flailing windmills. That’s exactly the point. That does not augur well, in my book.

First of all, there’s just gotta be less talk about it. Why do you have to have something that is exactly two minutes with so many seconds on either end of it? That isn’t the way. You should have one program that is your technical program, and one program that is your creative or other program, but neither one should be acceptable or be able to be marked well unless it has the qualities of the other one. One should be of technical merit and one should be of — the old judging captions, artistic impression, they are in a sense that way now, they’re just called something different, it’s technical marks and the program components.

AM: So I wonder, you do outline at the end of the book your wishes and suggestions for better scoring, and they do include that the two programs should be different and that there shouldn’t be a time limit.

DB: Put it this way, there should be a time limit, but a generous one. I mean, during the World Professional Championships, we recorded the length of time of every skater, and only once did somebody ever go over, I think, maybe four and a half or five minutes. So if you have three and a half minutes or four minutes, a generous thing — what difference does it make? Why do you just have to limit yourself? This is just the one program, not the technical program, the artistic impression program.

AM: Well, I’m curious, what do the powers that be think about your ideas? Have you gotten any feedback?

DB: No, I don’t have feedback, because they . . . Ottavio Cinquanta does not want any subjective judging there. Remember, he is a speed skater, and all he can see — number one, he has two goals to his agenda. And once you understand a man’s agenda, you will understand what he will do. His agenda is to have, number one, to never have another scandal like we had in Salt Lake at the pairs skating competition. And number two, he’s all for eliminating anything subjective about the sport. He would like it to be like speed skating. You get over the line first, you’ve won. Now that is not figure skating. And besides he’s said it too many times, and he’s the one who put the new rules system in. My chapters go into all of that and show the chicanery that was involved with it. And now because he [laughs] made a contractual offer and placed every officer in their position for an additional period of time, he will now remain as head of the ISU until the year 2016. It’s a chapter in the book as well.

AM: You have always been an advocate for great spinning. You’ve talked about Dorothy Hamill, Lucinda Ruh, Ronnie Robertson, so I have to wonder, that in the new judging system, it has to be nice that at least you see the spins getting rewarded even if you don’t always love the positions.

DB: Well, I find that the multiple levels — you know, everything that you look at, there’s a grade of execution, there’s a level of difficulty. If you add more moves and turns into your spin, you get more points. But nobody gets points for blurred spinning. Nobody gets points for the things that used to make the audience stand on their feet and cheer. Spinning is just as important as jumping, and it’s one of the two major technical elements in skating, the other being jumping and then of course there’s spinning. And when you see somebody moving from position to position and changing their edges, all that sort of thing, you’re not looking at the spin. At least have one spin that reflects the total true quality of a fast, delayed, long lived spin, where everything counters on the centering and everything counters on the blurring of it and on the finishing of it. Look, I don’t have to have everything that I like, it’s what other people like too, but I will tell you, there’s very little to cheer for when you get a 243.8 personal best score. That doesn’t give the average person an understanding of what the heck the score is all about, except that somebody else can get 283.9. And I trust that was more than the first number I gave [laughs].

AM: Well, I’ve actually always wanted that. I’ve always wanted there to be at least one spin that was skaters’ choice, if you will, that they could do just for choreographic effect. Just like they’ve finally done with the step sequences, where you can just do one that you don’t have to do without so many turns and flailing and windmilling, but it’s one that just works with the music.

DB: Well, there’s very little — you can’t really create things that are unusual or unexpected or different and expect to get anywhere under the current judging system.

AM: Well, you have of course mentioned before that the ISU needs to be split, that skating shouldn’t be run by a speed skater any longer. It’s going to be a while, of course, since Ottavio wrote his own contract . . .

DB: Well, of course he did, and nobody stood up to him. Nobody was able to stand up to him because he has cultivated so many federations which are all speed skating federations which get their money from figure skating. So what do they care? Why would they care what the rules for figure skating are, any more than a figure skater would care less whether the speed skating race is another 50 meters or not? That’s up to the speed skaters to understand that. And the very fact that they — did you know that there are over 80 federations in the world of skating?

AM: I didn’t know there were that many.

DB: Over 80, and most of them all — the majority either are speed skating or joint speed skating and figure skating. And they get money from figure skating, the ISU pays them money from figure skating. And the end result is that of course they’re going to do what he wants.

AM: Do you think there’s anyone out there right now who can challenge him, who can be the next great leader, to separate the two?

DB: I think probably everybody is scared beyond belief. You see, the impact of the Olympic Games is always the most publicized event, but I can guarantee you, even the world championships which are taking place after the Olympic Games, they’re not going to be on live. They’re going to be in about two weeks in a summary program on NBC. Now maybe there’s some obscure cable system or Ice Network that will show them, but you have to buy that cable system. I’m sure there will be recordings of it. But [laughs] here’s a world championship that will be coming up a month later than the Olympic Games. Wouldn’t you think it should deserve — and it used to always be very much of a highlight. Now it’s sloughed off and it’s shown a week or two weeks later after the world championship is over. I don’t like that.

AM: I don’t either. All right, well, let’s move on from the judging and talk about which skaters for you right now are really exciting. You’ve mentioned Davis and White.

DB: Well, look, let me tell you something. My book covers a point about to wilt or not to wilt. When you have somebody who simply does not wilt, that in itself is exciting. And many a time, those people that can rise to the occasion, and suddenly pull together a program that is phenomenal — it’s what you want to see. I mean, I found myself rising out of my seat when Jason Brown performed, because he in a sense broke the rules. It will be very interesting to see how he fares in this international competition, when he has competition from not only Jeremy Abbott but from Chan, Plushenko, Denis Ten, Javier Fernandez, and the Japanese skaters. It’ll be very interesting to see how he compares in that to them. Remember, the National Championship is one where it’s a single country. And there aren’t countries that are vying to improve their lot because that’s the way they get money from the ISU. It’s a different situation. I hope like the devil that he does brilliantly. I find him a fascinating skater and I was entranced by the choreography. And the choreography was done by Rohene Ward. I remember talking to him a couple of years ago, saying, you are going to keep on skating, aren’t you? And he said, no, I’m not. And I felt that was a great loss. I’m very happy now to see him back in force as a choreographer.

AM: Yes. And I’m happy to see someone, that he has a student that can interpret that choreography so well. Because, you know, Rohene was a very unusual talent, and oddly enough Jason has a lot of the same qualities, with his extreme flexibility and his showmanship.

DB: Wait a minute. Are you telling me that that flexibility can’t be gained by other people? They can, if they would understand what that is and follow that.

AM: No, but I think Rohene was very unusual for a male skater to be able to use it to choreographic effect.

DB: Why as a male skater?

AM: Well, because most men, if they could do the splits like that, they certainly wouldn’t lower themselves on the ice and pull themselves back up and do a lot of — Johnny Weir could lift his leg all the way up before a lutz, too, just like Jason and Rohene can, but it is unusual.

DB: Well, that’s because they don’t follow that either. If you look at the number of skaters among the ladies that . . . well, look, there’s a totally developable way. Guys can learn. You see it in gymnastics, for heaven’s sake, If they do it, why can’t figure skaters? Look, this is called the development of the — right now, I can guarantee you there’s very, very little of the component score voting for some of the stuff that Jason Brown did. He was marvelous in the fact that he did not open his program with the single most difficult jump that he could. I’m really fascinated to see how the international version of this will work out, the international competition coming up in the Olympic Games.

AM: So you did mention that he is a bit of a rule breaker in that sense, and you have said in your book that rules are made to be broken. And you did use Torvill and Dean as a perfect example of that, of course, from 1984. Is there a rule that you see right now that you wish someone would break, or push a little more?

DB: Yeah. If you look at the rules of the component scores, you will see that, number one, they include skating skills, transitions/linking footwork and movement, performance and execution, choreography, and composition. Now what is the difference between choreography and composition, and transitional and linking footwork and movement, et cetera? I mean, aren’t these the same things?

AM: To me they are. To me it’s semantics.

DB: That’s right. And isn’t it better to have a skater develop that through their own intelligence rather than having to control those step sequences through it? And the linking movement and the linking footwork? And the transitions and the linking movement? [laughs].There was a wonderful English lady who would always comment on English television, and she had a very high voice, and when it came out, linking movements, we were all happily amused [laughs].

AM: Well, that’s a good challenge for the next person listening to this, to try to push those boundaries a little bit per Dick Button’s request. All right. So, you have a chapter on music choices, and there are a lot of choices as you know that are constantly overused and that we are all tired of hearing about. So is there a piece of music that you have never gotten tired of hearing, that you feel is underutilized?

DB: Look, these pieces of music are time-honored pieces of music. So if you look at, for example, Swan Lake, I still will go, when I go to the theatre in the winter time, I still will go to New York City and see Swan Lake. I mean, it doesn’t stop any more than certain songs that you get tired of. It is the way they’re developed, and I do a whole thing in this book on the development of music by the skater, and whether they understand what the music is saying. And when you pick a piece of music like Carmen or Swan Lake, it comes with over a hundred years — one comes with much more than a hundred years and one comes from close to a hundred years — of very fine history and development and interpretation. Are you telling me that because six skaters do it within a two-year period of time that you’re tired of it? I find it’s that the skater hasn’t developed it. We’re always seeing different interpretations of dance, and if you get tired of Swan Lake being done, then try to bring a great quality into it that makes it sing. Swan Lake is wonderful for skating because it has long sweeping movements. It is not Irish clog dancing or step dancing.

AM: Well, I think if you’re going to pick, and this is my opinion, but I think if you’re going to pick one of the commonly used pieces, you better make it good and different and that’s what I think — Samantha Cesario, I don’t know if you saw her program, when she did it this year at Nationals I thought it was fantastic. And I am not a fan of using Carmen because I think that after Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt had the battle of the Carmens, you’d better leave Carmen pretty dead. You know? [laughs]

DB: But one of the things is, you have to understand what the music is. I write about this in the book, and I talk about Mao Asada who is a lovely skater and a very nice person. But she had all the white feathers and all the music, et cetera, but there was no understanding of the movement of a swan in that. There was no understanding of the history of Swan Lake. I mean, you can’t have a program that has been performed for more than one hundred years now, nearly one and a half centuries, in great companies with great choreography and great sweeping music, and not understand what that performance level is. You must understand the music, you must be able to — and there are different interpretations of the music, different orchestrations, there are many times different ones. Whatever the piece of music it is that you choose, you can find sometimes more than one interpretation, and unfortunately we don’t hear about that on the commentary, I don’t think.

AM: Is there a piece of music you would like to hear more?

DB: Look, that’s like saying is there a great skater that I’d like to see more of. Always! Always. I like great skating. That’s all I’m saying, I like the best. And I want to be — it’s theatre, it’s athletic ability, it’s competition, it’s technical demands, it’s music, it’s choreography, it’s costuming, it’s the whole kit and caboodle. And I guarantee you, do you think they’re going to cut out — I wouldn’t be at all surprised, if Ottavio Cinquanta had his way, that he would make everybody wear the same costume for the team competition.

AM: They were talking about that. One of the articles this week was talking about putting all the athletes in Nike outfits [laughs].

DB: Yeah, yeah, yeah, remind me of one event I don’t want to see if that’s the case [laughs]. Oh, gawd. If you have a great product, don’t mess with it. Skating was a great product. Now we’ve messed with it so completely and for so long that it’s very disheartening. Remember, you’re not a member of the rules committee if you’re not making rules. If you’re a rule maker, you have to be making rules or otherwise you’re not a rule maker.

AM: [laughs] They got a little over-zealous. All right. Your commentary is epic. People still talk about it, they miss hearing you, your catchphrases have inspired a drinking game and compilations on YouTube. And you have gotten some heat for your comments such as “refrigerator break”.

DB: I’d like to address that. What the heck, would it have been better if I had said, it will give you an opportunity to make a toilet break? I don’t think so. A refrigerator break — you know, I think I got over 1100 letters from people saying that I had only said that, I wouldn’t have said that if this, that, and the other thing. And I wrote each one of them back and I said, look, Angela Nikodinov was a very talented skater, but she was skating against Michelle Kwan, and there is no problem coming in second behind Michelle Kwan, but she was coming in fifth, fourth, second, third, fourth, that sort of thing, floating around. But what she allowed you to do was to lose your sense of concentration on her. That’s where performance level comes in. She was a gorgeous, lovely skater, with wonderful technique and very, very beautiful on the ice. But she allowed you to lose your sense of concentration. She allowed you to switch off and take a refrigerator break. And after I answered that, I never heard anything more about it.

AM: But she did listen to you, though. Because she came back amazing the next year. She made you pay attention.

DB: [laughs] Well, that’s my gold medal. My gold medal is when I hear, when I make a criticism of somebody and then I see later that they have either improved it or changed it. One of the things I always said about Evgeni Plushenko was, way back in 2002, I said, he’s a wonderful jumper but he’s a lousy spinner. And the next year, or two years, I was at a championship, and he said, how are my spins? Are they better? So he was listening, and he made it good. And his spins were better. And that’s a great compliment to me, when somebody does that.

AM: So how many skaters would you say have come up to you and talked to you about your comments about their performance?

DB: Well, I had a lot of skaters say, can you point it out to me. One of them was Jason Dungjen and his partner, Kyoko Ina. Kyoko Ina had exquisite posture and stretch and arching of the back, and Jason was like a nice all-American skater without that same stretch. So when they did a pair move, hers was extended beautifully and his was not parallel to it. As soon as I pointed that out to him, he understood exactly what I was talking about, and I think they worked hard on it. So that was a great honor to me. That is my gold medal, my reward, when a skater will do that. And look, you really only criticize, I say this in the book, you really only criticize a skater if they’re talented. If they’re not talented, it doesn’t spark comment.

AM: Would you say the refrigerator break comment was the largest reaction you’ve gotten over the years from fans, or was there another one?

DB: It was one of them. Another one of them was when I commented one time about, I think it was crossing the street in New York, and everybody said, oh, you wouldn’t have said that if the skater that I was referring to wasn’t black. And come on, I encourage my kids to cross the street, I say, stop and look in both directions, otherwise you’ll get run over and then you’ll look like a pancake on that road. It’s about an awareness of your surroundings, and you’ve got to be aware of the surrounding effect in an arena. How many times do you see — go back and look at programs. That’s why some day I would like to see a great media museum of skating. Because if you go back and you look at these performances and you consider them, then you will never forget that. And it will apply itself, it will be another basis for another understanding of what it is that you’re doing.

Every position you take on the ice should be thought out. You cannot just do these positions where you see the skater come out and they take their position and the free leg toe is pointed behind and to the side of the skating leg — you know, the kind of position you take where one foot is flat on the ice and the other is on a point behind you. Look at the number of times you see, what is the position of that foot? Is it turned under, or is it not in an elegant position? If you want to see proper position, look at Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov, and John Curry, and Janet Lynn, and Peggy Fleming. And Dorothy Hamill, who became an infinitely better skater after she had won the Olympics. I was a better skater after I had finally learned, long after I had retired, and learned from — there’s a whole chapter in this, it’s called “Open Your Eyes, Dummy.” And it was my opening my eyes which led me finally to understand what the heck skating was all about.

AM: Well, I would love it if we finally had a media museum with all those performances.

DB: There is the museum in Colorado Springs, but it doesn’t have any money. US Figure Skating is not really going to support it because they want to support skating today. But sometimes the education, the media education is imperative.

AM: Yes. Well, I am hopeful that one day will come to fruition, that there will be a central place where all that is housed, and it’s not just YouTube [laughs]. So, all right, your book, I sort of felt like as I was reading it, and this is sort of getting heavy here, I really felt that it was a metaphor for living a balanced and fulfilling life. It talks about centering yourself, breaking the rules, having a solid foundation, fighting the good fight, not wilting under pressure, and having a whole lot of fun. Do you view skating that way?

DB: Yep. You know, skating is no different than gardening, than painting, than anything else. You know, I hope you’ll come some day and see my garden lecture [laughs]. Then you can do a conversation on that for a different sport. But all of these things intertwine. Why do you dress the way you do? Why do you speak the way you do? Why do you live in a house, if you have the opportunity to live in a house, why do you choose the style of house you do? All of these are inherent in skating, and they are inherent in everything else. It is called not only what the eye beholds, it’s what the eye registers. One of my pet peeves is watching skaters take position in the center of the ice, when they skate down and they’re on one foot, and the other knee is bent. Time after time, you look at that particular entrance move on one foot, and it’s not a beautiful move, but yet there is every skater doing it. What is that move, what is that position supposed to be? If you ask the skater, what are you trying to express by that, are you expressing a welcoming moment to the crowd? You don’t have to be on one foot to do that. Take a look at it yourself, and I urge all your listeners to take a look at that, and take a look at the number of times an arm flings above the shoulder. And question each and every one. Peggy Fleming, always, I would see her in front of a mirror at a rink, constantly checking out the way she finished a turn or a pirouette, or made a turn, and how the dress worked with it. She was constantly looking at that. And you will find that she does not make a move even today without knowing exactly what that position is, whether she’s on skates or not.

Ludmila and Oleg Protopopov, and I talk about this in the book, I went up to Lake Placid where they were getting a lifetime achievement award, and of course the Lake Placid club or whoever it was didn’t have any money for publicizing it, and it was an almost empty arena. However, the Protopopovs skated in it as if they were skating for the King and Queen of England. And Oleg took an opening position with Ludmila, and you take one look — without them moving one inch, they took a position, and I said, that’s it, that’s their whole performance right there in that position. They were stunningly beautiful in that position. And they’re well into their 70s, and there was the story, right there. My problem is, I can’t look at skating — that’s one of the sickening things with having watched it for so long, is that I’ve seen extraordinary performances, Belita Jepson-Turner, Noffke and Schubach, pairs skaters who were champions of the US in the 40s, the movement, their parallelism of their moves was extraordinary. They couldn’t do throw axels and they couldn’t know what triple side-by-side jumps were and so forth, but their pair skating quality was without compare. I mean, it was just extraordinary.

All I’m asking the skaters to do, and everybody else to do, is to look at it, and say, why are we doing this? Each step, what is it supposed to do, and is it? Does it interpret the music and does it interpret — John Curry, we did a thing with Ice Theatre of New York, Dance on Camera, at Lincoln Centre over the weekend, and it was all about, it was a great deal of comment and production in the John Curry film of what he was teaching skaters and the way he was making them look at film. Slavka Kohout used to do that. She would take all her dancers in to see the ballet, or any other production that had dance movement in it. It wasn’t about seeing it, it was about registering it. And that’s the important thing. If there’s only one thing I hope for in this book, with a little bit of tomfoolery that you don’t get stuck into something serious, and, number two, that it opens your eyes.

AM: I love that. All right, I just have one more question for you, then, since we are just days away from the Olympics. I am curious what you think about the new team event.

DB: Oh, I don’t really think much about it at all one way or the other. I think if they want to do it, that’s fine. It gives a secondary skater a secondary choice, and it gives somebody who may not win a medal another chance to win a medal, and I’m fine with that. I don’t have any great problem with it. You know, God bless them, what they’re doing is trying to get another set of television exposure, and that produces money and blah blah blah. The one thing, though, that I did understand was that when the rules were not quite set in Budapest, at the European championships, the newspaper people were asking Ottavio Cinquanta what was the rule about such and such, and he said he didn’t know. He said, you have to ask the Russians about that. Well, hello! Are the Russians the ones that are controlling the sport? I mean, the Russians are a hell of a good skaters, and very efficient, and they’ve got a wonderful team going, but are they the arbiters of our sport? That’s my complaint. “I am a speed skater, I know nothing about figure skating.”

AM: I know, it’s incredible. Well, I agree with you that it’s wonderful that there’s another opportunity for skaters to get medals, because there’s just been the one chance all these decades. But I also don’t think that it was done for any reason other than ratings and money. I’m cynical enough for that. But I’m glad to see the skaters get another opportunity.

DB: Right. But you’ve also got to remember that that’s why figures are no longer with us. They didn’t bring in any money, nobody watched them, they took a lot of time, they were expensive, and they didn’t add anything to the income. So this is another one that adds to the income, and it really doesn’t change anything. I’m sure they’ll all do their same programs that they will do again. They’re not going to create a new program now. They might for another year.

AM: Maybe for the next round. But we’ll see. To be determined [laughs]. Well, I am going to take you up on your offer and invite myself to one of your garden lectures someday.

DB: [laughs]. All right. I just finished one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and one at the Botanic Garden in Arizona, and I’ve done several in the New York area, in the New York and Connecticut area, and maybe there’ll be one in the early spring or so in a nearby city to New York. So I’ll let you know.

AM: Please! And as we’ve discussed I’m hoping to come out and see you in a couple of weeks, and do another interview more about you.

AM: And I hope that you’ll let me come up and take a look at your fantastic art collection of skating art.

DB: Oh, you’re more than welcome.

AM: I would love it.

DB: You’re more than welcome. You have a good one, my dear, and keep the faith.

AM: You too. Enjoy the next couple of weeks of good television.

DB: Thank you, ma’am.

AM: And there it is. I have finally had my dream of interviewing Dick Button. I can now die happy. I think. Although, as you heard, he did want to have another conversation later. So we will plan to do that.

And until next time —
May you be a pioneer with whatever you choose to do. May you be as opinionated and passionate about your life’s work as Dick Button is about his life’s work. And as he says in his new book Push Dick’s Button, on page 46, and yes, I’m paraphrasing just a little bit: don’t skate to Carmen.


The 2000s

Team USA’s international prominence in ice dance began this decade, led by Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto who became the first team to win an Olympic medal in 30 years. A judging scandal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City led to the international judging system being created and adopted. U.S. Figure Skating debuted its new logo and the new U.S. Championships Trophy designed by Tiffany & Co.

United States Hosts First World Synchronized Skating Championships

The first World Synchronized Skating Championships welcomed 21 synchro teams from across the globe to Minneapolis. The Haydenettes and Team Elan represented the United States.

PSA Launches Hall of Fame

The Professional Skaters Association launched its coveted PSA Coaches Hall of Fame.

Sarah Hughes Wins Olympic Gold

Sarah Hughes won the gold medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City at the age of 16 following a stunning free skate.

National Skating Month is Born

National Skating Week took place for the first time from March 4-10, 2002, with the theme “It’s Great to Skate.” The event evolved into National Skating Month, which now takes place every January.

U.S. Capital Hosts Worlds

Washington, D.C., welcomed the best skaters on the planet as the United States hosted the World Championships for the 11th time. Michelle Kwan won her fifth title and Timothy Goebel earned a silver medal.

Michelle Kwan won her final of five World title in Washington D.C. Goebel earned the silver medal at two consecutive World Championships, including in Washington D.C.

Organization Unveils New Logo

In 2003, U.S. Figure Skating dropped the shield and adopted its current logo as part of an organizational re-branding. The logo rolled out on merchandise, documents and the new website throughout the remainder of 2003.

ISU Approves International Judging System

At the June 2004 ISU Congress, delegates approved the international judging system to replace the 6.0 scoring system, which was the center of scandal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. International events began using the system in the 2004-05 season.

U.S. Championships Trophy Unveiled

Designed by Tiffany and Co., the sterling silver U.S. Figure Skating Championships Trophy was first awarded at the 2005 U.S. Championships. The names of every U.S. champion since 1914 are engraved on it.

Belbin and Agosto Earn Historic Olympic Ice Dance Medal

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto won the silver medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, becoming the first American ice dance team to earn a medal at the Olympics in 30 years.

Miami University Earns First U.S. Medal at World Synchronized Skating Championships

Miami University won the silver medal at the 2007 World Synchronized Skating Championships in London, Ontario. It was the first World Synchronized Championships medal for the United States.

Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir Tie at U.S. Championships

Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir tied at the 2008 U.S. Championships in Saint Paul, Minnesota, with a score of 244.77. Lysacek’s free skate was scored higher by 1.35 points, giving him 2008 title.

Kristi Yamaguchi Wins Dancing With The Stars

Kristi Yamaguchi won season six of Dancing With The Stars with partner Mark Ballas. She was the first figure skater to win the Mirrorball Trophy.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White Win First of Six Consecutive U.S. Ice Dance Titles

Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first of six consecutive U.S. ice dance titles at the 2009 U.S. Championships in Cleveland. The record-holding duo went onto surpass five teams that had won five career titles.

Los Angeles Hosts World Championships, Lysacek Breaks Drought

For the 12th time, the United States hosted the World Championships, this time in Los Angeles. Evan Lysacek captured the men's title (the first American man to do so since Todd Eldredge did it in 1996), and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto earned silver in ice dance.

Evan Lysacek was the first American man to win a World title since Todd Eldredge did in 1996. Both Belbin and Agosto were inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2016.
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009

Women

2010 Vancouver: None

2006 Turin: Sasha Cohen, silver

Kwan withdraws after one practice in Turin. It is her unofficial retirement from competition, leaving the sport without a female star in the United States for the first time in 50 years and accelerating a decline in interest that continues when U.S. woman do not win an Olympic or world medal in the next seven seasons.

2002 Salt Lake City: Sarah Hughes, gold Michelle Kwan, bronze

Sarah Hughes, 16, fourth after the short program, pulls off the greatest surprise in Olympic women’s skating to win the gold. Short program winner Kwan stumbles to bronze, making her the greatest skater never to win the Olympics.

1998 Nagano: Tara Lipinski, gold Michelle Kwan, silver

Lipinski, 15, becomes the youngest champion by upsetting heavily favored Michelle Kwan, 17, whose graceful acceptance of defeat becomes an element in her wide popularity and admiration. Never have both the gold and silver medalists skated as brilliantly in the Olympics as Lipinski and Kwan did.

1994 Lillehammer: Nancy Kerrigan, silver

As if the Tonya-Nancy affair weren’t enough to stir the pot, the women’s event finishes in a controversial victory by 16-year-old Ukrainian orphan Oksana Baiul over Nancy Kerrigan. Baiul, then the second youngest champion in history (after Henie), moves to the United States and spends a few years a wealthy wild child, with drinking issues that get widely publicized as skating is constantly in the spotlight.

1992 Albertville: Kristi Yamaguchi, gold Nancy Kerrigan, bronze

Yamaguchi becomes first U.S. women’s gold medalist since Hamill but decides not to take advantage of the one-time change in the Winter Olympic schedule and try for another two years later in Norway.

1988 Calgary: Debi Thomas, bronze

1984 Sarajevo: Rosalynn Sumners, silver

1980 Lake Placid: Linda Fratianne, silver

1976 Innsbruck: Dorothy Hamill, gold

Champion Dorothy Hamill’s wedge ’do quickly becomes the most copied hairstyle in the United States. In 1993, Hamill ties with 1984 gymnastics champion Mary Lou Retton for first place in an Associated Press poll of the most popular athletes in the United States. Michael Jordan is third.

1972 Sapporo: Janet Lynn, bronze

Lynn, daughter of an Evergreen Park pharmacist, becomes one of the most beloved skaters in history after winning a bronze medal because of her grace on the ice and the lighthearted way she handled a mistake in the free skate. Hers was a joy of skating so unfettered by judges' marks that Lynn was able to smile after falling on a flying sit spin. As an ice show star, she was once the world’s highest paid female athlete. In her book “A Passion To Skate,” choreographer and NBC commentator Sandra Bezic wrote, “If an angel could skate, she would move like Janet.”

1968 Grenoble: Peggy Fleming, gold

Fleming’s chartreuse dress is a highlight of the first Olympics broadcast in color. She is the only U.S. gold medalist at the Grenoble Olympics and immediately became a celebrity. President Lyndon Johnson receives her at the White House twice. She is the first skater since Henie to have a huge commercial appeal, headlining ice shows and doing TV commentary.

1964 Innsbruck: None

Following the 1961 plane crash that killed the entire elite of U.S. skating, this is the only Olympics from 1952 through 2006 when U.S. women did not win a medal. But a 15-year-old named Peggy Fleming finished sixth, setting the stage for her triumph four years later.

1960 Squaw Valley: Carol Heiss, gold Barbara Roles, bronze

Heiss does a film, “Snow White and the Three Stooges,” after winning gold. Marries 1956 men’s champion Hayes Jenkins and stays in the sport for years as a coach.

1956 Cortina: Tenley Albright, gold Carol Heiss, silver

Albright becomes first U.S. woman to win gold. She goes on to a career as a Harvard-educated doctor.

1952 Oslo: Tenley Albright, silver

1948 St. Moritz: None

1944 No Games

1940 No Games

1936 Garmisch: None

After winning her record third Olympic gold medal, Norway’s Sonja Henie moves to California and stars in films and ice shows that inspire future Olympic champions from the United States, beginning with Tenley Albright in 1956. Of Henie, 1960 Olympic champion Carol Heiss said, “She made skating, especially women’s skating.’’


Watch the video: Denise Biellmann 1980 Olympics LP USTV (July 2022).


Comments:

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  2. Eduardo

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  3. Vipponah

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  4. Duzahn

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