Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Countdown to the New Year: Day Three: Nancy Kerrigan's "Desperate Love"

Beautiful! One of my favorite Olympic performances from my childhood. And oh that iconic spiral...!

Countdown to the New Year: Day Four: Kurt Browning's "Play that Funky Music"

This man can move!

Countdown to the New Year: Day Five: Katarina Witt's "Robin Hood"

The 1984 and 1988 Olympic Champion, East Germany's Katarina Witt, returned to Olympic competition in 1994 when a rule change allowed professionals to reinstate as amateurs. This time around, at age 28, one of the sport's legends decided to compete for the love of the sport rather than medals. Under the Iron Curtain, her parent's had never been allowed to leave the country to watch their daughter compete in her previous Olympics,but in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994, under a United Germany, Katarina's parents were able to watch her compete on Olympic ice for the first time. This short program to the music from the movie "Robin Hood" is a lovely display of both athleticism and artistry. A job well done to the 2-time Olympic champion in her third Olympic appearance!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Countdown to the New Year: Day Six: Elizabeth Punsalan and Jared Swallow's 1998 Tango Freedance

One of my favorite ice dance programs. An underrated program and pair. Both the performance and pair are wonderful! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Countdown to the New Year: Day Seven: Ilia Kulik's "Who Wants to Live Forever?"

The perfect combination of athleticism and pure skating skill. The 1998 Olympic gold medalist performed this program to "Who Wants to Live Forever?" during last year's Stars on Ice tour. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Bonus: Todd Eldredge's "Lord of the Rings"

A beautiful Olympic farewell to an one of the great American champions.

Holiday Bonus: Brian Boitano's "Shenendoah, They Call the Wind Maria"T

Fantastic Skating from one of the all-time greats!

Holiday Bonus: Kristi Yamaguchi's "The Gold" by Linda Eder

Kristi is such a beautiful, person, skater, and role model to so many, all these years after winning an Olympic gold medal in 1992. This is such a gorgeous performance to "The Gold" by Linda Eder. Ironic that this performance was from Kristi's last year with Stars on Ice when just a few minutes ago I watched a video from the 1993 Stars on Ice with Kristi's Stars on Ice debut. What an elegant and sophisticated skater she evolved into throughout her tenure with SOI. Enjoy!

Holiday Bonus: Jeremy Abbott's 2010 Nationals Freeskate

Magnificent!! One of my favorite competitive skating performances of all time!

Holiday Bonus: Yu-Na Kim's Olympic Freeskate to Gershwin

Olympic perfection.

Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day One: Michelle Kwan's "Winter" by Tori Amos

A beautiful inspiration to all: the lovely Michelle Kwan.

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day Two: Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov "Reverie" by Claude Debussy


Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day Three: Scott Hamilton's "Someone to Watch Over Me" by Frank SinatraA

A Master on ice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day Seven: Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean's "Rhumba"


Update on Michelle Kwan

Saw this update about Michelle Kwan on yesterday:

Kween of Washington

According to a Dec. 6 article in the Washington Post, Michelle Kwan has taken a job as a senior adviser for public diplomacy and public affairs at the U.S. State Department.

Kwan, who recently got a degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, also mentioned that she and fiancé Clay Pell are planning a Rhode Island wedding sometime next year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day Nine: Ashley Wagner's "Samson and Delilah" by Camille Saint-Saëns

Ashley Wagner has been on fire this season! The reigning U.S. National Champion made a bold statement during the Grand Prix Series, both with her striking orange costume and her sensual commanding programs. At the Trophee Eric Bompard competition in November, Ashley put together the best freeskate of her life. I said it earlier in the season and I'll say it again: Ashley has been channeling Michelle Kwan this season. No one can ever reach Kwan's level exuding pure heart and soul on the ice, but Ashley has greatly impressed me with her artistically "complete" and dynamic programs this fall. Her level of sophistication and finesse has vastly improved.

Wishing Ashley the best when defending her national title in January! Enjoy her beautiful rendition of Camille Saint-Saëns' "Samson and Delilah."

Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day Ten: Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov's "Vocalise" by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov's "Vocalise" is profound. The premise of this piece, created by the great choreographer Marina Zoueva, is that Rodan's famous sculpture "The Kiss" comes to life. "Vocalise" is one of my favorite Gordeeva and Grinkov masterpieces. The two-time Olympic champions are simply magical.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this spectacular work of art.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day Eleven: Jeremy Abbott's "Hometown Glory" by Adele

For the last four years, Jeremy Abbott has been one of my favorite men's competitors in the world. Though the three-time National Champion hasn't always been in the upper-echelon of World standings, his artistic presence is nothing short of World Class. No one in the world of skating commands the blade as well as Jeremy does; floating across the ice as he casts a magical spell over audiences time and time again. Jeremy's skating style is sublime. His elements are seemingly woven across the ice in one beautiful, fluid thread. No other skater has moved me to tears more than Jeremy has in the last four years.

While this exhibition piece to Adele's "Hometown Glory" from last year's Fashion on Ice TV special isn't Jeremy's piece-de-resistance, it is indeed a fantastic display of first-rate skating skills and heart, what we've come to expect from this talented athlete and artist.

I wish Jeremy all the best in the coming year, especially at the U.S. Championships in January, where he will try to win his fourth U.S. title. His new feeskate, an instrumental of the grandiose piece "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, is one of the most beautiful freeskates I have ever seen.

I hope you enjoy Jeremy's "Hometown Glory" on this lovely December afternoon!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown: Day 12: Meryl Davis and Charlie White's "Notre-Dame de Paris"

My new favorite program of the season is Meryl Davis and Charlie White's new freedance to the music of "Notre-Dame de Paris" by Roberto Cocciante. The program caters to the strengths of the 4-time U.S. National Champions, whose hallmarks are speed, passion, and dynamism. The highlight and rotational lifts are stunning, as well as the drama and verve of the final movements of the program. Charlie, in particular, skates with an inspiring reckless abandon. The final pose of the program creates great artistic and emotional impact.

Meryl and Charlie are undefeated this season, winning both their Grand Prix events. Last weekend they made history, becoming the first U.S. team to win four-consecutive Grand Prix final Championships. In the final, they defeated their main rivals, Olympic Champions, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Meryl and Charlie are the reigning Olympic silver medalists, as well as the reigning World Championship silver medalists, after narrowly losing their World title to Tessa and Scott at last year's Worlds in Nice, France. Meryl and Charlie have renewed motivation and passion this season. I wish them continued success and luck on their way to defending their U.S. title in January and regaining the World title in March.

Regardless of results, this team continues to be my favorite dance team in the world. I am constantly in awe of their raw passion, speed, and spectacular skating skills.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful-winning performance from last weekend's Grand Prix Final in Sochi, Russia.

The Third Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Skating Countdown

For the next 12 days, I will count down to Christmas by highlighting some of my favorite figure skating performances. During the holiday season, as with every other day of our lives, it is so important to take the time out of our busy schedules to perceive and appreciate beauty. I hope that you can take a few moments to watch these luminescent performances and enjoy the moments of happiness that they bring.
I hope that you and your families have a very blessed and beautiful holiday season!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two-Year Anniversary Post: Michelle Kwan's "One More Time" by Laura Pausini

In honor of the two-year anniversary of the creation of my blog, here's one of my favorite Michelle Kwan exhibition performances to "One More Time" by Laura Pausini from the Message in a Bottle soundtrack. This performance is a true gem from figure skating's most vibrant jewel, the great Michelle Kwan.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog in the last two years!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yuna Kim's "Die Fledermaus" and "Miss Saigon"

Yuna Kim's 2007/2008 competitive programs to "Die Fledermaus" and "Miss Saigon" were always my favorites. Enjoy!

"Die Fledermaus" short program:

"Miss Saigon" freeskate:

Daisuke Takahashi's "Cyber Swan" and "Romeo and Juliet"

The 2007-2008 season was an incredible one for the reigning World silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi. His material was out of this world, with genius Nikolai Morozov, Daisuke's coach and choreographer at the helm. Daisuke's "Cyber Swan", a techno remix of Swan Lake, was the "signature" program of the season, according to 1992 Olympic silver medalist and commentator, Paul Wylie. Daisuke's freeksate to "Romeo and Juliet," though more traditional, was also a powerhouse number.

I rewatched the 2008 4 Continents Championship last night, the competition that many skaters use as a tune-up before Worlds. Daisuke was unreal. He blew away the competition in both the short and the long, running away with the title and a great deal of momentum leading into the World Championships. In hindsight, Daisuke probably put a little too much effort into his 4 Continents Championship because he peaked too early. By the time Worlds rolled around, Daisuke just didn't have enough gas left in the tank and finished just out of the medals in 4th. But regardless of the Worlds finish, Daisuke's performances at the 4 Continents Championship are a sight to behold. Enjoy!!

"Cyber Swan" short program:

"Romeo and Juliet" freeskate:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Incredible Comeback Kid: Tanja Szewczenko's Crowning Moment at the 1997 Champions Series Final

Last night, while going through old skating tapes, I came across this exhilarating performance by German skater Tanja Scewczenko. Tanja was only on the international scene for such a short time that I had almost forgotten about her as the years have passed, but this performance quickly reminded me why her skating was so special in the mid to late 1990s.

I first saw Tanja on TV at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, where she was hyped as the next German ladies superstar in a long line of great German ladies skaters, such as 1980 Olympic Champion Annette Poetsch, and the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Champion, Katarina Witt. Katarina had reinstated as an amateur for the 1994 Games, though Tanja had beaten her in the National championships leading up to Lillehammer. Everything seemed to be falling into place for the 16-year-old. I remember Tanja as a pretty, spunky skater with youthful exuberance and big jumps. She is also well-known as the skater with whom Oksana Baiul, the eventual winner of the Games, collided with on the practice ice the day before the freeskate. In the collision, if I recall accurately, Oksana bruised her ribs and side, and suffered a nasty cut on her leg. I don't know what Tanja's injuries were in the collision. A month following the Games at the World Championships in Japan, Tanja again experienced a freak accident in practice. I'm not entirely sure of the details, but she showed up to the freeskate with a bandage covering her chin. Despite the facial injury, Tanja skated well and captured the bronze medal, yet another harbinger, so it seemed, of the great things on the horizon for the German teen.

I don't recall seeing Tanja in the following season, but I understand that a a severe and nearly-deadly combination of viral infections knocked her out of competitions following her respectable 6th-place finish at the 1996 Worlds in Edmonton. Tanja did not compete until the following fall during the 1997/1998 skating season. When she did return to the ice, it was in winning-fashion, defeating the 1996 World bronze medalist (who went on to become a 2-time World Champion in later years) Irina Slutskaya, and 1995 World Champion Lu Chen and eventual World Champion later that season, Maria Butyrskaya, in her two grand prix events. At the Grand Prix Final in Munich, then called the Champions Series Final, Tanja was again ill. I don't know the whole story, but before the freeskate, the commentators said that they were surprised that she hadn't withdrawn from the competition, as it had appeared that she was going to collapse after finishing her short program. Whatever her illness was, it didn't show as Tanja skated the performance of her life, electrifying her home-crown with high-flying triples and an energetic presentation that radiated heart and unbridled joy.

Though Tara Lipinski, reigning World Champion and eventual Olympic Champion, skated a solid, inspired freeskate herself just moments after Tanja's career-defining skate,and won the gold medal, it was Tanja's performance that brought commentators and audience-members to tears. Tanja's skate was one of triumph, overcoming illness, injury, and pressure from skating her her home country. A beautiful moment!

The future looked bright for Tanja heading into the 1998 Nagano Games just months later, unfortunately, she was one of the many athletes to catch the flu in the Olympic village and was forced to withdraw.

After withdrawing from the Games, and no doubt heartbroken, my knowledge of what happened to Tanja goes fuzzy. I didn't see her compete again, so obviously she retired. This was very disappointing for myself and for skating fans, who always rooted for Tanja as the underdog and enjoyed her vibrant skating and personality. However, maybe for Tanja, enough was enough. A skater's life is difficult and that is only compounded when injuries and illness are constant. I've read that Tanja went on to become an actress on German daytime television and even appeared in German Playboy, as did Katarina Witt, who Tanja was compared to so often in her skating career.

Without further ado, please sit back, relax, and partake in a truly exciting moment of pure beauty in figure skating as Tanja defeats the odds and rises to the occasion at the 1997 Champions Series Final:

Sunday Skating Inspirations from the 1997 Skate America in Detroit

Was watching some old skating tapes this morning and was inspired by the following performances:

Michelle Kwan's "Rachmaninoff" short program:

Tara Lipinski's short program to "Anastasia":

Elizabeth Punsalan and Jared Swallow's "Tribute to Elvis Presley" freedance:

Michelle Kwan's freeskate to "Lyra Angelica":

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharudlidze's "Dark Eyes"

Classic Russian pairs skating.

Skating Tribute to "Time to Say Goodbye" by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli

Yesterday I was telling my friend Melissa about how bittersweet it will be to leave the town I've lived in for nearly the past three years. This move, while not happening just yet, is inevitable in the near future as my life is evolving in new directions. I said to her, "I guess it's just time to say goodbye." Immediately I thought of the powerful and beautiful song "Time to Say Goodbye," sung by two of the most gifted singers, Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. The duet version of the song, a variation on Bocelli's single of the same song, "Con te Partirò," which translates to "I leave with you," is one of the best-selling singles in history. For more interesting facts about this song, click HERE to read the Wikipedia entry.

When I mentioned this song to Melissa, she admitted that she had never heard it before. Gasp!! I feel sorry for whoever has never heard this magnificent song and I feel the need to share it immediately!

I told Melissa that "Time to Say Goodbye" is a very popular song for figure skaters to choose for their exhibition skates. Over the years I've enjoyed watching wonderful performances to this song by some of the world's best skaters. Below, I will share some of the best "Time to Say Goodbye" skating programs with you. Enjoy!!

Marina Annisina and Gwendal Peizerat perform at the 1998 Olympic exhibitions in Nagano, Japan. Marina and Gwendal were bronze medalists at the event.

Evan Lysacek performs at the 2007 show Fashion on Ice with Sarah Brightman singing live.

Patrick Chan skates in the 2009 Festa on Ice show to Bocelli's original single " Con te Partirò"

Sunday, September 30, 2012

In honor of Michelle Kwan's Engagement: "Salome"

Click HERE to read the news article about Michelle Kwan's engagement on People magazine's Web site.

Congratulations to Michelle!! In honor of the 9-time U.S. Champion's good news, here is one of her most famous and lauded programs: "Salome." With this sophisticated, exotic and intricate rendition, Michelle became a world champion at the age of 15 at the 1996 Worlds in Edmonton, Alberta. I remember it well!


Kristi Yamaguchi and Denis Petrov's "One Day I'll Fly Away" from Moulin Rouge

Denis Petrov with wife, Lu Chen.

Kristi Yamaguchi.

1992 Olympic champion, Kristi Yamaguchi, and 1992 Olympic silver medalist in pairs, Denis Petrov (with Elena Bechke), joined forces as a pairs team for the number "One Day I'll Fly Away" from Moulin Rouge on the Stars on Ice tour in the early 2000s. Yamaguchi, before becoming a national, world, and Olympic champion, was a 2-time U.S. National pairs champion with Rudy Galindo. Denis and his partner Elena, were a mainstay on the SOI tour for a decade, but when Elena retired, Denis opted to stay on tour to skate in ensemble numbers. The combination of Kristi and Denis is enchanting. I very much enjoy this program and hope you do, too!

Tara Lipinski's "Second Element" by Sarah Brightman

A lovely program by Ms. Lipinski: "Second Element" by Sarah Brightman.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skating Tribute to the great Barbra Streisand

On Tuesday, the great entertainer Barbra Streisand gave a rare interview on Katie Couric's new talkshow "Katie." Streisand talked about her upcoming concert in her hometown of Brooklyn, and about how to prevent heart disease, a cause that she has given millions of dollars out of her own pocket.

The 70-year-old Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony-award winner was demure, sophisticated and sweet in her interview, diverting attention away from her own accomplishments and focused them back on the issues of women's health. Streisand said that heart disease is the leading cause of women in our country, contributing to 30 percent of deaths.

In 2008, Streisand gifted $5 million to endow the Barbra Streisand Women's Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Women's Heart Center. Since then, Streisand has raised millions more for the Center.

Click on this link to see clips from Barbra's interview on "Katie." In the second clip on the page, Barbra, Katie, and Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, Director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, share information about women's heart disease.

Click here to read tips for heart health from Dr. Bairey Merz.

Seeing Streisand on "Katie" reminded me of all the phenomenal musical hits that she has had over the years. Her voice is one-of-a-kind amazing! And her hits have left an indelible mark in the entertainment business, in music history, and in our society!
I am reminded of all the wonderful skating programs that have been done to Streisand's songs over the years. A few that came to mind are as follows:

1.) Sasha Cohen's "Don't Rain on my Parade" (from the musical "Funny Girl.")

(Exhibition from the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. Cohen, the 2006 U.S. National Champion was the silver-medalist in Torino.)

2.) Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov's "You Don't Bring me Flowers" (duet with Neil Diamond that hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978.)

(Bechke and Petrov, 1992 Olympic silver medalists perform here at the 1994 World Professional Championships).

3.) Alissa Czisny's "You'll Never Walk Alone" (From the 1945 Rodger's and Hammerstein Musical "Carousel.)

(Czisny, the 2009 and 2011 U.S. National Champion skates following her gold-medal win at the 2010 Grand Prix Final).

4.) Nancy Kerrigan's "With One Look" (from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Sunset Boulevard.")

(Kerrigan, the 1993 U.S. National Champion, skates here at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Kerrigan was the silver medalist at the Games).

5.) Nancy Kerrigan's "The Lord's Prayer" (from Streisand's Christmas album).

(Kerrigan skates this beautiful program at an exhibition in 1993).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Ilia Kulik

Caption: Ilia Kulik and Ekaterina Gordeeva with their two daughters: Liza and Daria (daughter of the late Sergei Grinkov).

1998 Olympic gold medalist Ilia Kulik and 1988 and 1994 Olympic gold medalist Ekaterina Gordeeva (in pairs with Sergei Grinkov) have opened their own figure skating training center in Lake Forest, CA. The center is called Kulik's Skating. The Web site, , provides the following description:

"If you are a person who enjoys the sport of Figure Skating, enjoys physical activity and learning, then this is the place for You. Our facility is completely dedicated to sport of Figure Skating and will provide wide range of training activities for competitive and recreational skaters of all levels and ages."

Congratulations to Ilia and Katia on their new skating center. Considering the two are among the greatest figure skaters--Russian and otherwise--of all-time, one would imagine their skating school will attract skaters far and wide.

In honor of Ilia and Katia's new business and skating endeavor, I'm posting two videos of them skating together on the Stars on Ice tour. Their skating skills are a marvel.

The first program is called "Four Corners: Tell me Everything" by Adam Cohen, skated on the 1999 Stars on Ice tour. Ilia and Katia are joined by Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov in this number. I remember seeing this live in Madison Square Garden and loving it! This was the first time that skating fans saw Katia skate pairs since the death of her husband and pairs partner, Sergei, 4 years earlier. As this was also the first year that Ilia joined the Stars on Ice tour, fresh off his decisive Olympic victory, it was also the first time that Ilia and Katia skated together on tour.
Not to speculate, but perhaps sparks flew for them on tour that year, and in this pairs skating number, because rumors started circulating about their involvement soon after.

The second program is called "Si Tu No Estas/Casi Un Bolero." It is from the 1999/2000 Stars on Ice Tour. In this number, Ilia and Katia are joined by U.S. pairs and ice dancing teams, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand and Renee Roca and Gorsha Sur.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kwan-spiration: "The Red Violin"

This commanding performance from the 2000 World Championships was the first time we saw, what my sister calls, "The Michelle Kwan fighter face." Michelle was on fire in this freeskate, moving up from 3rd to 1st. As the British commentators said, "Seven triples added to her supreme presence around the ice.".... "She still has a spellbinding presence."


Back to School Inspiration: Kurt Browning's 1994 Short Program

One of my favorite Kurt Browning programs is his 1993/1994 technical program--the one he notoriously flubbed at the Lillehammer Olympics. I wasn't able to find a clean version of that competitive program anywhere on You Tube, but I did find this video of Kurt performing it at the 1994 World Team Figure Skating Championships. This isn't the best I've seen Kurt skate it, but it's still pretty darn good. There's no denying his technical genius (look at that footwork!) and his effervescent showmanship.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to School Inspiration: Todd Eldredge's "Independence Day"

One of Todd's best competitive skates at the 1997 Champions Series Finals (now renamed the Grand Prix Final). Todd finished second here to Elvis Stojko. Stojko made history at the event with the sport's first-ever quad-triple combination.

Despite having no quad, Todd's skating had everything else: a high-flying triple axel, fast, centered spins, and dynamic choreography that built as the music crescendos at the end. Bravo to Todd, an American Champion!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Michelle Kwan's "No One" by Alicia Keys

I was listening to Pandora this morning and heard "No One" by Alicia Keys. Of course, the song reminded me of when Michelle Kwan skated to it in Yu-Na Kim's All That Skate show in South Korea two years ago. While I don't think this is my favorite Michelle program, it's still definitely worth a look, as all Michelle programs are. In any case, it's always a joy to see Michelle on the ice, especially since her appearances are so few and far between in recent years.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy Birthday to me! Some All-time Favorite Performances

In honor of my 29th birthday today, here are some of my favorite skating performances of all time:

1.) Michelle Kwan's "Taj Mahal" from the 1997 World Championships:

2.) Artur Dimitriev and Natalia Mishkutenok's "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninoff:

3.) Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko's 1992 Olympic Freeskate to the music of Bach:

4.) Alexei Yagudin's "Overcome":