Thursday, June 19, 2014

Skating Into the Sunset: Alissa Czisny Announces Retirement

Two-time U.S. National Champion Alissa Czisny has announced her retirement from amateur competition. Czisny will remain in the skating world, but in the form of professional shows and coaching. Czisny has been out of competition for the last two seasons due to injuries and recovering from two surgeries. Click HERE to read the news article on

Over the years, Czisny has had many ups and downs, but through it all, she always composed both herself and her skating with the utmost class, grace, and style. Her skating skills, line, and positions were always exquisite; her only downfalls were her jumping technique and confidence issues that often held her back. Despite her inconsistency, Czisny was known for her hard work, tenacity, and optimism, all of which helped her to capture a handful of national and international titles. Czisny finished her career with two U.S. National titles ('09, '11--the second of which was won without flaw), two Skate Canada titles ('05,'10), a Skate America title ('11), and a Grand Prix Final Championship ('10).

I'll always remember Czisny as a classy champion with endless beauty and elegance-- on and off the ice.

Here are some of Alissa's most memorable performances over the years:

2005 Skate America, "La Bayadere" by Leon Minkus, (second place):

2007 U.S. Nationals, "Sabrina" soundtrack, (third place):

2009 U.S. Nationals, "The Swan," (first place short program):

2011 U.S. Nationals, "Winter into Spring" by George Winston, (first place):

2012 U.S. Nationals, "La Vie en Rose,":

2011 Exhibition at All That Skate to "Moon River":

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wednesday's Kwan-spiration: "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban

Ode to Todd Eldredge: Favorite Performances

It was recently announced that 6-time U.S. Champion Todd Eldredge is moving to McKinney, Texas to work with The Dallas Stars organization at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter. Todd, along with his wife Sabrina, and his former coach Richard Callaghan will head up the coaching staff.

For the last several years, Eldredge has lived and coached in Florida. Having not heard any news on him in awhile, it was good to hear what he's up to and that he's embarking on an exciting new endeavor. Click HERE to read the news article.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Todd at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston in January. I saw him from a far at first, but then worked up the nerve to go up to him and say hello. I told him how much I admired his skating over the years and how my family and I always rooted for him. He was very down-to earth and couldn't have been any nicer.

Though Todd's name may not be recognizable to the casual fan, all of the die-hard fans will always remember Todd for his easy-going attitude, good sportsmanship, and the ability to make his programs build, always culminating in a series of split-jumps and blurring spins. What's more, Todd will be remembered for his incredible tenacity. He endured a good amount of injury, hardship, and disappointment in his long-running career, yet he always came back fighting. I felt intense heartbreak for Todd when he tumbled from third to fourth place at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, and then again in Salt Lake City when he fell on his quad in the short program, taking himself out of medal contention. But in the end, when I look back on Todd's career, I don't think of those setbacks, and only remember the moments that made me rise to my feet in applause, made me swell with pride, and brought tears to my eyes. He's a great American champion and will always be one of my favorites!

Let's take a look back at some of Todd's best performances:

1.) Todd's "Gettysburg" freeskate from the 1995 Worlds in Birmingham, England.
Leading after the short program, Todd fell on a late Triple Axel attempt in his freeskate, but then courageously threw one in in the final seconds. Todd finished a close second to Canada's Elvis Stojko:

2.) Todd's winning performance to the "First Knight" soundtrack at the 1996 Worlds in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. This is one of my all-time favorites freeskates of Todd's, and of anyone:

3.) Todd's "Independence Day" freeskate from the 1997 Champions Series Finals. Todd followed Elvis Stojko's historic performance featuring the first-ever Quadruple Toe Loop-Triple Toe Loop combination in history and turned in a spectacular performance of his own. He finished second overall to Stojko:

4.) Todd's 2001 World Championship program to the "1492" soundtrack. After taking a couple of years off, Todd returned to the competitive arena to rival the new generation: Russian phenoms Evgeni Plushenko and Alexei Yagudin. Todd turned in a terrific freeskate and finished third:

5.) Todd's freeskate from the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was out of medal contention after the short program but fought back to deliver his best Olympic performance in three showings and one that certainly made all his fans proud:

6.) Todd's "Your Song" exhibition from 2002. Todd skated this number on the post-Olympic Stars on Ice tour in 2002. My family attended a show in Wilkes Barre that year. Todd skated this, and his Olympic freeskate, and got rousing standing ovations for both. I remember him skating with such freedom and joy, as if the release of the Olympic pressure had liberated him. One of my favorite exhibitions of his: