Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Old School" Musing: A Few of My Favorite Things

  • One of my favorite Robin Cousins performances
  • An exquisite John Curry piece, and another one that should not be missed by Curry to "Sunset" from Grand Canyon Suite.
  • Classic and artistic Toller Cranston
  • The incredible Gary Beacom (if you have never seen him, do yourself a big favor)
  • Kurt Browning (with hair) doing my absolute favorite program to Singing in the Rain, and talk about moves, She's a Brick House.
  • Scott Hamilton's pro "Short Program" that was a send up on real old school skating and a comic tribute to Dick Button.
  • Brian Orser skating outdoors to a touching Neil Diamond song.
  • A beautiful Brian Boitano program, again outdoors. (NOTE: The original was removed from YouTube for copyright reasons. Here is a wonderful program but not a great video recording of another program, this one in Sun Valley)
  • I video taped this program in 1992. It is my pride and joy and I take it out whenever I want to be inspired. Paul Wylie's Olympic long program still brings tears to my eyes.

There are many, many more but you can search them yourselves. Of course, I have many favorites among the women, too. I'll share those in "Old School: Part Two." However, my point is this: Watch and learn from the masters. If you do not understand the history of the sport, you will not understand where you can take your talents. It doesn't matter if you are a male or female skater, it all begins and ends with the heart and soul of what skating is all about. 
  • Work hard to make it look easy. 
  • Sit at the cyber feet of your skating idols and watch what they do. 
Do not imitate them; find your own voice. But aspire to share your talent in the same way they have shared theirs with us. If you succeed, it will bring the magic back to our sport. 

I had someone comment on my last blog that her son didn't "get it" when it came to artistry and skating. That's understandable but sad. Certainly, over the past decade things have changed. But there is still nothing like "old school" skating to understand how jumps and choreography are one in the same. Being mesmerized by a skater doesn't happen when he or she does a big "trick." It is all the things in between - what is now called transition - that brings a performance from okay to amazing. 
   So, I wanted to share YouTube videos of some of my all-time favorite male skaters'  famous, as well as lesser-known programs, so you can see what I mean.  


  1. What a delight to see all these! I'd never seen Gary Beacom before-so that was a treat. Can't wait for part 2.

    Thank you very, very much.

    We saw Gary for the first time in Aspen. It was the same time we saw Robin Cousins. Gary is a rebel. He's had a troubled past, like many, but his talent and creativity is undeniable. I tried to see what he's been up to. His official site is not up to date with the last post being in April. I hope he is still creating. He's an amazing talent.

  3. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Gary Beacom. Saw him almost by chance on TV years ago skating to "I'm Different" by Randy Newman and definitely being different. I love the way he experiments all over the place but at the same time has total, total mastery of the blade and his body. I wish more skaters would allow themselves to be as creative as he has been (although, to be fair, what I've seen of his amateur skating is much more conventional).

  4. I adore that Scott Hamilton video!!! What a guy. Had never had the pleasure of seeing that performance.

    I'm really looking forward to the second part! I'm sure I could learn a thing or two about old school ladies.

    When will you be doing the dance version?! My all time favourite is Torvill & Dean's Rhumba;

    That programme reminds me why I skate. I live in hope of one day being that passionate and sophisticated on ice!

  5. I will get to the ladies, pairs AND dance. Never fear. I started with the guys, well...just because I could! :) Thank you all for your comments and suggestions!

  6. Thank you for the links, we found some vids we hadn't seen yet. How totally fun! Can't wait to see the next installment!

    BTW, I've been searching madly to find a piece that features a red knit cap that is unraveled at the end. I think that it was a Scott Hamilton or Kurt Browning skate with Kristi Yamaguchi holding the string that unraveled the hat, but I could be totally off with the players. The hat is treated as precious in the beginning, then at the end it is totally unravelled as someone is skating. I can't find it anymore, do you remember it? I would be so grateful if you or your followers could help me find it. Thanks so much!

  7. I think the red hat was a Christopher Dean choreographed number. I can't remember who did it, though. I want to say it was Torville and Dean but Chris did hat numbers for other people, as well. Let me see if I can find out.

  8. Apparently, Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott did this number in Stars on Ice in the 90s. I can't find it on YouTube, though.

  9. Thanks! It was there a half a year ago. Bummer, I should have bookmarked it. I'll keep looking. :)

  10. Here is the answer straight from the source: "It was a number Scott Hamilton did (Stars on Ice); the hat was knitted specially for him by Jef Billings and each night it would unravel. The music was skating from the Charlie Brown Christmas albums written by Vince Guaraldi. I performed the number for the remaining cities after Scott was diagnosed with testicular cancer and took a leave from the show. The Jayne and Chris red hat was another number, and that was a bowler, set to ragtime music. The red hat was def a theme in soi that year. Hope that helps!" - Paul Wylie

  11. Thanks for the background. If I ever find it again, I'll send you the link. It was such a wonderful piece. Take care!

  12. Wow-- that was like a timeline of my childhood. I can remember all of those, and how old I was and how good (or not) I was. It was a lovely chronical of my 30+ years :).