Monday, October 25, 2010

Musings - "Old School" Part II: The Ladies..

I just realized that I never posted my "Old School" favorites from the ladies. After I re-posted the link to the men's videos, several people gently pointed that out to me. Mia Culpa. So, I'll start at the beginning with some of my personal favorite ladies' competition videos. I have others - including show programs - I will share at another time.

It is difficult to find competition video of Sonja Henie; only a few pieces are available on YouTube. Most of what I found was Sonja the movie star, not little Sonja who changed the world by jumping "like a man," shortening her skirts and making her skates white instead of black. Here is a vintage 15 second piece of Sonja Henie that defined future generations. Certainly, there are other videos, but this one hits home for me.
Moving ahead more than a few years, my next choice would have to be (Dr.) Tenley Albright. I was so honored to finally meet her in person at the 2010 U.S. Nationals. She is as beautiful, as graceful - and gracious - as anyone could imagine. This video is from the 1953 U.S. National Championships. The audio is not good. Fortunately, the skating is wonderful. 
Another person that I so admire and am honored to call a friend is Carol Heiss (Jenkins). Like Tenley, Carol is a classic beauty in every sense of the word. Here is her gold medal performance from the 1960 Olympics. This is the first time I remember watching figure skating. I fell in love with it then. Nothing has changed, except a lot of years and now a totally different perspective on the sport as a skating parent.

Several years ago, our skater had the extreme honor of traveling to Virginia to work with Janet Lynn. After failing his first figures test six (yes, SIX) times, he said that if they had kept figures as part of the competition he would have quit skating a long time ago. It took a lot of competitions, and working with many wonderful choreographers and coaches, for him to understand what an important role edges play in skating technique. While not known for her school figures as a competitor, Janet Lynn has become one of the greatest proponents of understanding how edges and figures translate to freeskating. Here is my all-time favorite Janet Lynn performance.
Dorothy Hamill's 1976 Olympic Long Program (not a great quality video but again the skating transcends the medium). Unfortunately, my favorite performance of Dorothy's was never captured on film or tape; it is forever etched in my mind. Dorothy came to our club to do a show back in the early 1990s. We were still in the old rink then, one that had been originally an outdoor facility that was enclosed in the 1970s. "Cold" does not adequately describe that rink. It was the morning of the first performance and there were only a few of us present; the facility that had been opened early to allow Dorothy to practice. The lights were not on. The only light came from the small windows that ran the length of the ice on both sides. It was one of those rare mountain mornings when the condensation in the rink caused mist to rise from the surface. I had a press person with me who was waiting to interview Dorothy after she warmed up. She stepped onto the ice as someone from her skating troupe put on "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. There, in the early morning light and mist, Dorothy improvised to the music. I was in awe. 
For this time around, I have saved two of my absolute favorites for last. The first one is iconic; the second is just inspirational.
Peggy Fleming's Olympic skate was a special moment in sport. After the tragic loss of the U.S. Team in the 1961 plane crash, Peggy and many others were thrust into the forefront of the sport. There was a tremendous amount of pressure to try and rebuild. Peggy would become the standard bearer. Many show, and many commentating years later, Peggy is still one of most recognized and revered ladies of skating. 

My final one for now needs no introduction other than to say two words: Michelle Kwan. I will let Dick Button say the rest.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much! I'd never seen a video of Peggy Flemming skating before.