Sunday, October 31, 2010

Michelle Kwan's "Lyra Angelica" and Janet Lynn's "Afternoon of a Faun."

In today's post, you will be treated to a DSD: daily skating double! You'll have the opportunity to watch two sparkling performances by two of the United States greatest female skaters in history: Michelle Kwan and Janet Lynn.

In 1998 Michelle Kwan made history at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Philadelphia by earning 15 perfect marks for artistic impression in the short and long programs. What was even more impressive is that Michelle was injured with a stress fracture in one of her toes, making it painful to vault herself into jumps.

Michelle's performance to "Lyra Angelica" ("Angel's Song")by William Alwyn and "Gymnopedie No.2" by Erik Satie was skated with such control,elegance, freedom, and joy, traits which would become trademarks of Michelle's skating. Someone, perhaps it was Sandra Bezik, once said that Michelle's skating best translates the feeling of flight.

Purity,peace,freedom and joy were concepts that were integral in the creation of this program by choreographer, Lori Nichol. As the great Dick Button said as Michelle took the ice, "One thing you should note about this; how elegant this is, the fact that nothing is hard-edged, that honesty is central to her skating, the gentility of her positions." Her skating embraces you. It transports you.

The Kwan/Lynn connection: In the year leading up to this magical performance, Michelle Kwan had been inspired by watching tapes of 1972 Olympic Bronze medalist, and 5-time U.S. Champion, Janet Lynn. Lynn, whose skating Dick Button once described as a "smooth, flowing thread of silk," fell during her freeskate in the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, and got up smiling. Michelle was moved by Lynn's positive attitude and ability to put her mistakes and disappointments into perspective. Michelle said, "That's the way I want to be." During the ABC broadcast of Michelle's "Lyra Angelica" at nationals, Dick Button said that Michelle's skating was "reminiscent of Janet Lynn."

According to sportswriter Christine Brennan's book "Edge of Glory," Janet Lynn (now Salomon) was at home watching Michelle's performance on TV. The following is a short passage from Brennan's book ( bottom of pg. 349 to top of pg. 350):

"At this point in time, it was the most inspiring night of skating I've ever watched," she [Lynn] said. "She meant all three of the top skaters [Michelle, Tara Lipinski, and Nicole Bobek], but, in particular, Kwan. "I felt the joy in her skating," Janet Lynn said. "Even when she was waiting to go on, the joy was evident."
There was that word again, the one word that Lori Nichol used as a foundation for Kwan's long program.
A deeply religious person, Janet Lynn Salomon went upstairs in her home to read her devotional book, which included passages from the Bible's Letter of Jude.
A quote jumped off the page: "Faultless...with exceeding joy."
"That's it," she said. "Those are exactly the words I'd use to describe what I just saw."

I hope you enjoy watching Michelle's "Lyra Angelica" and Janet Lynn's silky rendition of "Afternoon of a Faun".