Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Flashback to the "Golden Age" of Skating

The weekend before Thankgiving, the Mussellman's Family Skating Tribute was featured on NBC. The show was filmed at Penn State's brand-new state-of-the-art facility, Pegula Ice Arena, on Nov. 3. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to write an article about the event for The Altoona Mirror newspaper (about 50-minutes from Penn State). Even more fortunate, was my opportunity to interview one of the featured performers, who just so happens to be one of my all-time favorite skaters: Paul Wylie, 1992 Olympic silver medalist. He couldn't have been any more pleasant and friendly. I'm thankful to have had the chance to speak with him and tell him how much I have admired his skating over the years!

If you're interested in viewing my article about the event, featuring the interview with Paul, click HERE.

To read the article I wrote about the new PSU ice arena, click HERE.

While watching the show, I was overcome with nostalgia for the figure skating in the 1990s, when all the greatest skaters from the last few decades, Paul Wylie, Kurt Browning, Ilia Kulik, and Ekaterina Gordeeva, were on TV almost every weekend. Nowadays, the skating shows and events that are televised are few and far between. Furthermore, the amateur stars of today don't have the same skating skills and scope that the greats, such as Wylie, are known for. Much of that is due to the death of the 6.0 system and the birth of the IJS system, but that's a story for another day.

Watching the aging skaters of yesteryear, some of whom are now into their late 30s, mid-late 40s, still deliver programs that show a glimmer of what made them great in their prime, warmed my spirit. I know that might sound cheesy, but having loved skating in the ardent way that some of us who grew up while watching the sport in the post-Lillehammer-era did (and do), it makes sense to feel that way about an event that momentarily-brings back the fond memories of the past and reconnects you with the people who brought so much joy.

To honor the terrific skaters who performed in Mussellman's Family Skating Tribute, I'd like to share performances from these athletes in their prime years; the ones that helped to make figure skating one of the most-watched sports on TV. Long gone are those days, but the memories of the beautiful skating will live on forever.

Paul Wylie's "Carmina Burana" by Carl Off

Just extraordinary. One of the iconic performances of Paul Wylie.

Kurt Browning's "Antares" by The Tragically Hip

One of my favorite programs of Kurt's.

Michael Weiss's 1999 World Championship bronze-medal winning program to the "Mulan" soundtrack:

Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marvel's "Roadhouse Blues":

I saw this performance live at the Caesar's Tribute to American Skating in 2010. It was very exciting and crowd-pleasing! One of the best numbers of the night!

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler's "Welcome to My World":

Though known for their fast-paced and humorous routines, I always loved their slow numbers.

Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev's 1998 Latin Freedance:

Though this pair never achieved much international-recognition, they were simply fabulous ice dancers in domestic circles. THe winners of five U.S. National titles, Lang and Tchernyshev were the team that preceded the U.S. "breakout" dance team, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.

Ilia Kulik's "Liebestraum":

A master of his craft.

Ekaterina Gordeeva's "Fragile":

Irina Slutskaya's "Totentanz" short program from the 1996 Olympics:

Kyko Ina and JOhn Zimmerman's 1999 short program to the soundtrack from "The Truman Show":

Silvia Fontana's triumphant moment at the 2006 Olympics in her home country:

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