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Tara Lipinski Interview: Figure Skaters Online

“Going into this Olympics in South Korea it feels very surreal [to be on the prime time broadcast team], but it’s also my 20th anniversary and feels like the start of this career that I’ve always wanted,” said Tara Lipinski, 1998 Olympic Champion. 

She was answering my question about her transition from skater to broadcaster, and the sometimes-difficult path that elite and Olympic athletes have when their competitive days are over. More on what Lipinski calls her second career, and which legendary commentator she looks up to, in my piece for Figure Skaters Online:

On 20th anniversary of her Olympic gold medal, Tara Lipinski looks ahead to new chapter

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Social Skaters

With both the Grand Prix Final and the holidays over, I feel like there is a bit of a lull in the skating season. (Though U.S. Nationals are just around the corner, and Japan and Russia have already held their national championships with some interesting results. Click the links for recaps of both events from The Skating Lesson.)

Things might be quiet on the ice, but you can still keep up with your favorite skaters on social media. Here are my current favorites to follow on Instagram:

@TaraandJohnny: Photos and short videos from the “glimmer twins” of figure skating commentary, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.

@meryledavis: I love the inspirational quotes and beautiful images that Meryl Davis posts.

@charlieawhite: Cute pictures of Charlie White’s puppies. Enough said.

@starsonice: Not only does this account post behind the scenes images and video from the Stars on Ice show, but it also includes skaters’ birthdays, reminders about when skating is on TV, and competition results and kudos.

Who are your favorite skaters to follow on social media?


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Impressions: Skate America

I blogged my take on the ladies’ event at Skate America the other day, but also had a random collection of thoughts from watching the competition that didn’t belong in that post. I imagine this will happen with most of the competitions, so this will probably turn in to a consistent series. I’m going to call it “Impressions” and use it as a spot for all my random thoughts and observations immediately after a competition. So, let’s go:

  • Commentary

I love the commentary team of Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski, and Johnny Weir. Terry is such a good sport, and I have loved him for years. His playful dynamic with Tara and Johnny adds so much personality to the telecasts. But I also appreciate how they are willing to analyze each performance with a critical eye, rather than lavishing praise on all the skaters. It is not help to the average viewer to say that everyone did well–that makes the complicated marks in the IJS judging system even more confusing!

The trio pictured at the 2014 Sochi Olympics (source: bizjournals.com/chicago)

Johnny in particular has a fantastic way of explaining skating intricacies to the casual viewer. He doesn’t use too much jargon and really breaks it down so people can understand. When American Jason Brown fell on his second triple axel in the long program, my observation was that he was too high on his knees and underrotated the jump, which wouldn’t really make sense to a non-skater. Johnny worded it perfectly for the broadcast audience by telling them that Brown didn’t get up on his toe pick on the takeoff and fell because he landed sideways instead of backwards. Johnny also picks up on small details that make a huge difference. South Korean skater So Youn Park was skating a beautiful program, but something was missing with her connection to the audience. Johnny astutely pointed out to the viewers that she was skating with her eyes down, impairing the connection with the audience and also making her look less confident. I love his observations!

Their fashion is pretty great as well and you can follow along with all of Tara and Johnny’s behind the scenes antics on Twitter and Instagram @TaraandJohnny!

  • Layback entrances

Why are almost all of the ladies doing a one-revolution camel spin/illusion into their layback spins? Did I miss something? Rule change? Definitely comment or email if you have the answer! It seemed like Gracie Gold was the only one who didn’t use this entrance.

  • Jason Brown’s hair

He deviated from his signature ponytail for a half up/half down braided look (hard to see in this photo from teamusa.org, but it is there). What do you think? I liked it and think it fit his program (the dramatic opera Tristan and Isolde about doomed lovers). The best part is that he wears it with such confidence in himself, no matter how unconventional the look is for figure skating.

source: teamusa.org

Her unique, flowy dress for the short program was gorgeous, but I was a little mystified when she came out in a very similar purple number for the long program.

Elizaveta Dress Comparison

Long program dress on the left, short program dress on the right (images via the AP and CBC Sports)

I loved the style for her short program, which was set to the iconic (but somewhat repetitive) Bolero. The music is so consistent and persistent, that I liked the contrast that the more relaxed dress style brought to the overall impression of the piece. Not sure why she went with a similar style in the long—it almost seems like she is trying to hide behind the puffy sleeves and flowy material. Am I overanalyzing?

Skate Canada is on the docket this weekend—with the much-anticipated presence of Ashley Wagner. I’m a big fan of her skating and am hoping she can recover from her last place finish at the Japan Open earlier this fall. I’ll be watching! Will you?