Saturday, December 20, 2014
Day 11: Mark Cockerell's 1984 Olympic Freeskate
Many of you may not have heard of Mark Cockerell, but you should take note. I first heard of Cockerell during an interview that Nancy Kerrigan once gave. She said that she was inspired by some of the male skaters of the 80's, citing Mark Cockerell for his technical ability and his amazing triple toe-triple toe combination.
Upon further research, I learned that Cockerell was the first man to perform a triple-triple in the Olympics (the 3toe-3toe) at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. (Incidentally, Kerrigan also had a beautiful triple-toe-triple toe combination in her repertoire. She performed it perfectly at the 1994 Olympics; quite a feat considering no one else in the competition was doing triple-triples, as far as I'm aware).
My research also provided a good reason as to why Cockerell isn't that well-known. He was on the Olympic team in 1984 with two of the greatest U.S. champions of all time: Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano. Hamilton went on to win that Olympic event, and Boitano the next one four years later. Talk about being out of the spotlight when you're sharing a team spot with those two!
Cockerell was the 1976 World Junior Champion in its inaugural year, finished third at the U.S. Championships in 1983 and 1984, and finished 2nd to Boitano in 1985. From what I've read, Cockerell, originally of California, has gone on to become a successful skating coach. He's directed skating clubs in the past. In the most recent article I read, he was coaching in Massachusetts. He was formerly married to a Russian singles skater, who performed in Ice Capades, and they have a teenage daughter who is also a skater.
When I first watched Cockerell's Olympic freeskate, I was overcome with the Olympic spirit. I wish I knew more about Cockerell's Olympic journey, and why the audience gave him such a warm and boisterous ovation at the beginning and end of his skate. From what I gather, there was a large American contingent in Sarajevo, and considering Cockerell started the freeskate in 17th place, I'm sure they were trying to offer him as much encouragement as they could. Their support seemed to pay dividends, as Cockerell skated a performance that felt very natural, free, and full of that kind of joy that only the Olympics seems to bring out. It was so refreshing to watch a skater enjoy himself to the point that you could feel his spirits soar, see the smile on his face, and the crowd responded accordingly.
I don't know about you, but I really like this performance. I find Cockerell's jumps powerful and exciting, and I wanted to see him do even more difficult content. His skating seems to include all the moves that get audiences excited: split jumps, butterflies, etc. His triple-triple combination at 1:10 is awesome, and I love the kneeslide into double axel at 3:55. I've never seen anyone else do that---so cool.
This performance makes me happy and I've become a Mark Cockerell fan. Happy Day 11 of the holiday season!