Tag Archives: Figure Skating

From the Olympic Fanatic Vault: Barbara Ann Scott–A True Patriot

(Photo by Tony Linck//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

I still remember the first time I learned about Barbara Ann Scott.   Leading up to the 1988 Winter Olympics, I was soaking in all I could about the sports and athletes.   In addition to  its spread previewing the figure skating competition to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome, Sports Illustrated also featured an article on Canada’s last women’s figure skater to win Olympic gold:  Barbara Ann Scott.  Back in 1988, it was remarkable to note that no Canadian woman had won a figure skating gold medal in 40 years.  Move forward to 2012 and Canada still continues to wait for another to replicate Scott’s accomplishment.  The friendly nation is in its 64th year without an Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating.

Earlier this week Barbara Ann Scott passed away.  She was 84.  Remembering that Sports Illustrated article, I had my parents look for it in my stash of Olympic memorabilia.  Yet again they came through for me.  I guess I need to think about moving these items to my home.

Before there was Dorothy Hammill, Michelle Kwan, or even Yu-Na Kim, there was Barbara Ann Scott.  The Ontario-born skater had a tremendous impact on not just the skating world, but all of Canada.  Take these notables which The New York Times mentioned in its tribute to her:

  • How many figure skaters can say they had a doll created in their likeness in the pre-Barbie era?  In 1948 the Reliable Toy Company began manufacturing the Barbara Ann Scott Doll.
  • How many female athletes can say they inspired male athletes?  It was a direct result of Scott’s heroic win at the 1948 Winter Olympics. Her skating aesthetic was so perfect that Donald Jackson said of Scott, “Even though I was a male skater, she was the one person I looked up to.”  Dick Button said of Scott, “She was delicate, precise, exact, meticulous — simply perfect.”
  • How many can be credited by a prime minister?  Former Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King said that Scott “gave Canadians courage to get through the darkness of the postwar gloom.”

    The Sports Illustrated article which inspired me. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Back in 1988, this thirteen year-old girl was immediately attracted to Scott and her story.  Aside from Scott’s historical impact as a skater, I was drawn to her beauty and poise–both in her younger and later years.  Even at age 60, Barbara Ann Scott exuded an elegance and sophistication that few athletes possess.   I remember thinking to myself, “Here’s someone worthy of looking up to!”

Such grace was not only exhibited in her skating and style, but in her words and actions.  Like the majority of Canadians, Scott had much love for her country and was unabashedly patriotic;  not as Americans think of patriotism with our obnoxious chanting of “USA! USA.”  No, Scott was like most Canadians, equally proud and humble to be Canadian.  It’s the same modest and dignified satisfaction that Canadians possess, and which we’ve seen in other Canadian athletes like  Wayne Gretzky and Sydney Crosby.  In its tribute to Scott, the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as having said, “My father always taught me that anything you can do for Canada, do, it comes first….And so, I tried in my little way.”

Scott at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Photo: Ashley Fraser, Postmedia News)

So proud of her were Canadians that they didn’t forget her when the 2010 Vancouver Olympics were held.  Scott was selected as one of several to help carry the Olympic Flag during the opening ceremony (I had hoped that she’d be selected to light the torch.). While I was saddened by how much she’d aged, I smiled when I saw how elegant she still was, and how happy and proud she was to be representing Canada at another Olympics.

Perhaps Scott didn’t have any triple or quadruple jumps in her resume.  Yet whether on or off the ice, she carried herself with the poise, grace, and humility that is seldom seen anymore.   Barbara Ann Scott isn’t just a role model for figure skaters.  Or Canadians.  Exemplifying modesty and patriotism, her “true patriot love” touched many “far and wide.”  I can only hope that her legacy will not be forgotten and remembered by future generations.

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

 

 

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2011 Men’s US Nationals: Is a Second Letter to Figure Skating Needed?

2010 US National Champ Ryan Bradley. (Photo by Matthew Stockman, January 28, 2011)

While the NHL All-Star events were chaotic but extremely entertaining, I was particularly impressed with Hurricanes’ Centre Jeff Skinner.  How ironic that Skinner used to be a figure skater, because his athleticism would probably earn him tons of medals these days.  Figure skating’s governing body, the International Skating Union (ISU) is again enamored with jumps.
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Could Lipinski, Weiss, & Belbin Be Headed to Sochi?

You might be wondering if I’m a bit confused.  Yes, I know that Tara Lipinski, Michael Weiss, and Tanith Belbin have already been to the Olympics.  So why am I touting these former amateur skaters as ones to watch in 2014?  As commentators, of course!
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Women’s Ski Jumping Approved? Well, Sort of….

It wasn’t the worst news that supporters of women’s ski jumping could have received.  It wasn’t the best, either.  In a statement released yesterday, the IOC stated that it looked “favorably” on women’s ski jumping being added to the 2014 Olympics, but that a final decision would not be made until after the world championships next year.   Yet again, women’s ski jumping has not been given a final clearance for take-off.  But it is the most promising news the sport has received, and as jumper Lindsey Van told USA Today, “They didn’t say no, so we’re headed in the right direction.” (Click here for the article.)

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Orser/Kim Split: And the Ice Thickens….

Article first published as Orser/Kim Split: And the Ice Thickens…. on Blogcritics.

With my grumblings (earlier this year) about figure skating, not much has happened to change my opinion.  I’m still frustrated with the confusing judging system and the lack of interesting choreography.  But a good scandal certainly can add a much-needed spice to the world of figure skating!  By spice I’m not referring to Brian Boitano’s cooking show.  No, I’m talking about that other Brian, Brian Orser, and his ex–pupil, Kim Yu-Na.

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Happy Birthday! Vive La France!

Perhaps it is a tad self-indulgent, but today is my birthday.  Yes, on this day,  my parents welcomed into the world their fourth child, although they had no idea that this little bundle of joy would grow into such a fierce Olympic fanatic.

I’ve always been proud that July 14 was the day I was born.  I share my birthday with the great country of France, which celebrates its independence on this day, known as Bastille Day.  I also  share a birthday with 321 Olympians known to have been born on July 14.  Of the many on the list, I was particularly pleased to see the name of Nataliya Mishkutyonok, one of my favorite figure skaters.

Most of us think we have the Ancient Greeks to thank for the Olympics, and yes, it is true that they are the ones who created the original Games.   Yet without France, one of the greatest countries in the world, there would be no Baron Pierre de Coubertin.  Without the vision and determination of Coubertin, there would be no Modern-Day Olympics.  And I cannot imagine my life without the Olympics.

To France, Nataliya, and all Olympians who celebrate a birthday today, I say Bon Anniversaire! Happy Birthday to us!

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

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Plushenko’s Complaining Now Involves IOC’s Rogge?

The Games in Vancouver are over, athletes have begun to leave the Canadian host city, and for many medalists, the media tour has begun.  For American medalists like Evan Lysacek, this includes appearances on “Larry King Live,” “Late Night With David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show,” and even “Dancing With the Stars.”  For Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko, who lost to Lysacek in the men’s figure skating event, the whining about his silver medal continues, it seems.

On yesterday’s “Leafs Lunch” podcast, co-anchors Darren Dreger and Bill Waters  had much to discuss after Canada’s Olympic gold in hockey.  Yet it was another story by Dreger which was most interesting for me–that of him witnessing an impromptu meeting between Evgeni Plushenko and IOC President, Jacques Rogge.  As Dreger told the story, the scene of the exchange was at the television studios’ headquarters, where networks such as CTV and NBC broadcasted the Olympics and conducted many fireside interviews with athletes.  Plushenko was leaving after having just done an interview (perhaps with CTV).  Rogge was entering the building to be interviewed with NBC’s Brian Williams.  Athlete and official shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.  But that wasn’t all.  According to Dreger, before leaving, Plushenko leaned in and audibly commented to Rogge, “You have to fix this!”

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