Monday, February 28, 2011

A Few Final Things About 4CC; A Few New Things About Junior Worlds

+ Do you remember Cheltzie Lee, the Australian teenager that opened NBC’s coverage of ladies’ figure skating in Vancouver a year ago? She recently competed at Four Continents, and despite the lack of a triple lutz or flip, finished 10th in a field of 29. (Here’s the FS as the Clip of the Day.) The reason I mention this is that it’s pretty rare for anyone that’s not representing China, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., or Canada to break into the top 10 at this event. In fact, the last time it happened for Australia was five years ago—when Joanne Carter placed 8th in 2006. Personally I hope Lee gets somewhere soon where she can master the big-ticket jumps (if it’s still possible); I enjoy watching her and it’d be a shame if this turns out to be her biggest accomplishment outside of competing in Vancouver.

+ Admittedly I didn’t think much about the final scores of the men at this year’s U.S. Nationals until I spotted a Tweet from Jeremy Abbott last week…

Really wishing I had done a 2T at Nationals. I would give anything to go to Tokyo. If nothing else I'm fired up for next season! BRING IT!

And then I thought about them, looked them up, and saw that bronze medalist Ross Miner finished with 224.35… and Abbott finished with 224.16. Less than .2 dividing them. I believe a double toe (2T) has a base value of 1.4 points. So there you go. Also… ouch!! What a brutal realization.

+ And speaking of toe loops… the quadruple kind, in this case… I couldn’t help but notice that this event was the opposite of Europeans in terms of quad success. Only ONE of the top 5 men had a successful attempt, and that one (Yuzuru Hanyu) didn’t even make the Japanese Worlds team!

With that, we move on to Junior Worlds, which takes place this week in South Korea. Will you be tracking it this year? Representing the U.S. men will be Junior champ Max Aaron, as well as Senior top 10 finishers Keegan Messing (who finished 4th at J. Worlds last year) and Jason Brown. Representing the U.S ladies will be Agnes Zawadski (2nd at J. Worlds last year, and 4th at Senior Nats this year)… Christina Gao (8th at J.Worlds last year; 5th at Senior Nats two years running)… and current Junior Ladies champ Courtney Hicks. You can read much more about this week’s events via this article at We’ll check in and see how everyone’s doing as the week progresses.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Denney/Barrett Not Just "Out" (of 4CC)... but Over. Done. Kaput.

Wow. I thought we’d have at least another 4-6 weeks before the season was ripe to announce coaching changes, partner dissolutions, etc… but getting a jump on the annual merry-go-round is none other than 2010 U.S. pair champs Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett. They announced their “breakup” today via this USFS press release , which indicates 26 year-old Barrett is retiring…

Denney plans to continue her skating career.

"I feel I'm just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to what I'm capable of," Denney said. "My goal is to find a new partner and begin competing again by next season."

"Caydee was such a good partner," Barrett said. "I know she will be successful in whatever she decides to do."

In a way I guess it makes sense— they can’t serve as this year’s Worlds alternate with his current leg injury… there’s a substantial age difference between he and Denney… plus as we know, he’s also preparing for the married life with fellow pairs skater Amanda Evora. Perhaps he’s realizing he doesn’t want to hang in for another three years (to try for a second Olympic berth), and wishes Denney, who will only be 20 at the time of the Sochi Olympics, to have time to build a great new partnership.

I hope it’s something like that, because any other reason would be truly disappointing. As I mentioned before Nationals, I admired the power and energy these two brought to the sport. And I really thought they were just getting started (together only three years, after all). Sadly, they end their time together with a trio of U.S. medals and no GP medals. They finished 13th at the Vancouver Olympics, and 7th at the Torino Worlds last year.

I’m including their winning free skate at last year’s Nationals as the
Clip of the Day… Me, I’m sorry their road was such a short one. How about you?

Monday, February 21, 2011

2011 Four Continents: What it Meant to its Competitors... THIS Year

Every year since it began in 1999, the Four Continents Championship has slowly been finding its identity. Generally speaking, it’s intended to be the European Championships for Non-Europeans… an event that comes between a given country’s Nationals and Worlds that helps with the fine tuning… for those participants who are indeed headed to Worlds, that is. But sometimes it seems much more like the equivalent of college basketball’s National Invitation Tournament—a “consolation prize” for those that don’t make the Worlds team. Problem is, its intent varies from country to country—and I’m not even including the needs of all the involved nations that seldom make it to the Worlds Finals.

Here’s what 4CC seemed to mean this year to the following athletes:

Virtue/Moir: an opportunity for last year’s OGMs to make their long-delayed season debut. Unfortunately, their mission was cut short when Virtue developed severe pain shortly after the Free Dance got started (reportedly unrelated to her chronic pain issues in her legs), and the team had to withdraw. Davis/White ended up with the win.

Shibutanis: a chance to show off another step in their highly impressive senior debut season. And that they did, taking silver over both Crone/Poirier and Weaver/Poje.

Miki Ando and Mao Asada: One more chance to go head-to-head prior to Worlds on their home turf. (They finished 1-2, respectively.)

Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt: Their second and, presumably, last chance to go head-to-head for the season. They finished 3-4, respectively. (Somehow I think Flatt, with her third consecutive World birth, still has the upper hand.)

Alissa Czisny: since she actually used the “fine tuning” term in press conferences, we’ll just hope her 5th place, sub-par (for this season, at least) performance is her way of leaving her worries behind her en route to Tokyo next month.

Jeremy Abbott and Kevin Reynolds: These two were definitely in the aforementioned Consolation Mode, since neither of them are Worlds-bound. But they handled this opportunity in pretty different ways, if their performances are any indication: One guy (Abbott) hunkered down and posted a seasons’ best score (though it was only good enough for bronze); the other simply hunkered down… and didn’t really get up. (My way of saying Reynolds—last year’s bronze medalist—finished down in 11th this time.)

Adam Rippon: A place to show off his new haircut (yes, sorry to say, the blond ringlets are shorn for now). Sorry to say it didn’t help his triple axel situation. Last year’s 4CC Champ had to settle for 5th. But to be fair, last year Rippon wasn’t facing the reigning World Champ in this event (Daisuke Takahashi, who took the title this time).

Pang/Tong: Bragging rights. What else can you say about a team that has been at this event almost as many years as it has existed… and picked up their 5th 4CC gold this time?

Everyone in pairs but Pang/Tong: experience. And hopefully, in the case of Evora/Ladwig, 4CC will also mean a new skate boot or two. If you didn’t see what happened to them (I alluded to it last time), check out this
Clip of the day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Hunt For 2011 4CC TV Coverage (and how you might track it down)

The action over in Taipei got underway earlier today, and I didn’t get time to make any 4CC predictions… BUT, that doesn’t mean I can’t get busy covering it in some way!

For one thing, you might want to check this link out if you haven’t already… it’s a post at FS Universe telling not only WHEN the events happen (in various time zones), but WHERE you might be able to catch some streaming video if 4CC can’t be found in your area. I checked it out this morning, and was able to hook up to a link streaming the last few draws in the pairs SP… just in time to see Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig get started… and then come to an abrupt stop when Ladwig’s boot actually broke at the heel on the landing of their SBS triple toes! Even more amazing… he got off the ice, switched to another boot within the three minute allotment, and finished the program! They are currently in 6th place. The whole story can be found in this IceNetwork article.

As for the Short Dance (which came first)… let’s just say Virtue/Moir are back. Here’s their SD. You can probably guess the rest without even seeing it!

P.S. for those of you attending RISE tonight… if you’re interested in writing up a little review of it in the next few days and serving as a “guest blogger” here, drop me a line at KLawrence997-at-gmail-dot-com. I cannot attend, but would love to hear a detailed account of what people think of it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SKATING ON AIR Preview #2: Dear U.S. Figure Skating World Team of '61...

The following is another preview, in the form of a letter, to one of the early chapters of my forthcoming book SKATING ON AIR: THE BROADCAST HISTORY OF AN OLYMPIC MARQUEE SPORT. Although my publisher has requested that I refrain from including any text excerpts until the book is actually released (sorry about that), I think you’ll get a good sense of what at least a fraction of the book is about. I’ll be posting more “previews” in weeks to come.


It’s such a big week for the lot of you, and yet of course, conventional wisdom says it shouldn’t be. The Sabena flight that was taking you to Worlds 50 years ago this week shouldn’t have crashed. The championship shouldn’t have had to be canceled. U.S. Figure Skating shouldn’t have had to rebuild their entire elite program, especially in the shadows of a previous decade’s dominance. You should be in your 60s and 70s, perhaps with ongoing coaching careers, standing at the boards alongside contemporaries like Frank Carroll and Carol Heiss Jenkins, marveling at the good and bad ways figure skating has changed through the decades. You should have been here longer—much, much longer.

But you’re not, and instead we remember you with books, with documentaries, with Tara and Sarah and Evan ringing the closing bell yesterday at the New York Stock Exchange. Destiny took a cruel turn on you, and it ultimately paved the way for countless skaters to survive financially in the sport, via assistance from the USFS Memorial Fund. You excelled at a time when figure skating success was still relatively new to the U.S.; when media attention was marginal, especially in an off (read: non-Olympic) year. For a long time I’d see that picture up there of the lot of you, posing on the steps of “that doomed plane,” and wonder if that was the only visual evidence that remained of the World Team. It seemed neither fair nor possible.

And then, through the wonder of YouTube, I discovered a little more.

For as it happened, CBS opted to take the excitement generated by its figure skating coverage the previous year (the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics), and try to extend it into ’61 by way of U.S. Nationals coverage. It was the first time such coverage had ever found its way to a national TV network—a show called ABC’s Wide World of Sports, which dominated the U.S. Championships for over 40 years, was still a few months from making its debut—so there was very little precedent to follow. There were rules, to be sure—no cameras roaming backstage, no cables to be pulled in the Kiss-n-Cry (no Kiss-n-Cry, for that matter), nothing too close-up. Just a scant few, probably very large cameras positioned in the stands, with CBS’ Bud Palmer and a 31 year-old Dick Button commentating at a table nearby.

It was probably one part exciting and three parts nervewracking to know you, the soon-to-be World Team, were going to be featured on CBS’ Sports Spectacular a week or two after the event took place (it wouldn’t have aired live back then). Nowadays, seeing at least 12 cameras covering Nationals is commonplace. I wonder how mind-blowing it would be for you to know that clips from that event can now be seen by millions of people all over the world with the couple of mouse-clicks at a computer screen?

Having seen those clips numerous times as I worked on Skating on Air, I can attest to what a gift they are. Every discipline differed greatly from the way they’re skated now. Basic jumps were less complicated (I only spotted one triple), but the variety and frequency with which they were executed was remarkable. Pairs didn’t do the dramatic lifts we see today, but conversely, I’ve never seen a modern pair do axels that took them right into a pairs camel spin, either. (It’s really cool.) Ice dancers didn’t do curve lifts, dance spins, or twizzles. Men didn’t skate with the fluidity and flair that many do today, but their power and skill was extremely evident.

I could never say it’s easy to watch CBS’ black-and-white, somewhat grainy images, knowing how your story came to an abrupt conclusion just a few weeks after these performances were filmed. But with it being the first time the sport was brought to the masses in a non-Olympic year (and far from the last), I can’t help but give you a bittersweet smile just the same. TV truly preserved history that day… in many more ways than was ever expected. May the 18 of you stay frozen in time forever that way.

(I’ve got the brother-sister pairs team of Ila Ray Hadley and Ray Hadley, Jr. featured as the Clip of the Day. That axel-to-pairs camel spin I mentioned above can be found at the 2:40 mark. They were 11th at the Squaw Valley Olympics, and 2nd at the ’61 Nationals. She was 18 and he was 17 when they perished in the crash.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

4CC News: Denney/Barrett are Out; Marley/Brubaker... You're In

I don’t think anyone called me on it, but I made a mistake on the last post. For some reason I thought Ryan Bradley was going to 4CCs, but he’s not—Armin Mahbanoozadeh is the one joining Jeremy Abbott and Adam Rippon. Apologies on that!

And there’s been an official change to the roster since last week as well… U.S. Bronze Medalists Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett have withdrawn, due to an injury sustained by Barrett (Denney’s blade collided with his leg coming out of a SBS triple too loops—check
this article at Universal Sports Taking their place will be first alternates Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker; it is their first international event since pairing up less than a year ago. It’s a tough end to what was really a sub-par season all around for Denney/Barrett… here’s hoping they come back stronger next fall. As for Marley/Brubaker—talk about baptism by fire! But it’s a great break for them.

And now for something completely different… this
Clip of the Day really should have gone with the Dear Sonja Henie… post I did a couple weeks ago. It’s Ms. Henie as seen in the 1941 Fox musical Sun Valley Serenade, complete with an orchestra and dozens of skating extras. Especially if you’ve never seen one of her films, consider taking a look at this!

P.S. As you probably know by now, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Sabena plane crash that claimed the lives of the 1961 U.S. World Figure Skating Team (and the subsequent one-night release of RISE). Amidst all the articles and features being done right about now, I’ll be doing a little one of my own. Look for it shortly, before we start zeroing in on 4CC/Taipei coverage.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Odds and Ends on the Way to Taipei

Before I give you some early needs-to-know stuff regarding 4 Continents, here are a few odds and ends from U.S. Nationals…

+ Were you wondering if Jeremy Abbott (who turns 26 this June) was pondering retirement after his 4th place finish in Greensboro? Oh, perish the thought.
This article in the Detroit Free Press confirms that this year’s turnout only fuels Abbott’s intent to stick around at least one more season.

+ Were you wondering if your eyes were playing tricks on you during the Super Bowl—when, smack dab in the middle of a 2-minute Chrysler commercial paying homage to the “motor city” Detroit, Alissa Czisny was briefly shown spinning on an outdoor arena? Indeed that was our 2-time National Champ (who trains under Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen near Detroit). What a lovely surprise—and since the ad carried an undercurrent of all things renaissance, what splendid (if perhaps inadvertent) timing. Didn’t see it? Watch it here. (An easy Clip of the Day.)

+ And were you wondering what John Coughlin (one half of the new U.S. pairs champs) was Tweeting about this week? No? I found this pretty interesting (not to mention kind of hilarious); maybe you will too. Here is a series of Tweets from this past Monday:

I think it's funny when singles skaters take up pairs on a whim, as if anyone with a triple toe can be successful...

Pair skating isn't a "fall back position", people.

You'd be amazed at how many people, male skaters specifically, utter the words "maybe I'll just do pairs", after a rough national outing.

But what am I saying, all of us that have been here for the right reasons welcome all challengers ;)

And AXE body spray isn't an alternative to showering! Sort it out, people! Okay, done ranting... For now

Anyway… Coughlin and his partner, Caitlin Yankowsas, will be in attendance at 4CCs soon along with the rest of the podium finishers (save for Richard Dornbush and Ross Miner; Abbott and Adam Rippon will be representing instead, as mentioned last week). Here’s a (very) quick primer for that event…

WHEN: February 17-19

WHERE: Taipei City, Taiwan

Here is the entry list at the 4CC event website.

WHY: The ISU claims this is a parellel event to the European Championships (in that it gives many skaters one more chance to work the kinks out between their country’s championships and Worlds?), but some of us still aren’t really sure about that.

WHERE TO SEE IT: Not really sure about that either (yet), other than “as soon as people with coverage in the Far East post clips to You Tube”.

More to come as we get closer to it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Catching up with 2011 European Championships

There were quite a few interesting developments in this year’s European Championships (which took place the same weekend as the U.S. Nationals), so before we get any deeper into February I’d like to bring several to your attention… (in no particular order)

+ Sarah Meier won… and promptly retired. In what has to be one of the most unexpected happy endings this sport has seen in quite some time, the oft-injured Swiss Champion specifically retained her amateur status in order to compete at THIS event, for it was held in her home country this year… and then she won! I have to think that, especially in light of all the physical pain she’s endured in the past few years, this victory was at least as sweet for Meier as any Olympic or world medal could’ve been. At first I thought But she can’t retire now, she’s gotta go give Worlds one more shot! But the more I think about it, the more I get it. And the more I think about the pain etched in her face when she took that awful fall in her SP at last year’s Worlds, the more I applaud her decision. (For the record, her best Worlds finish was 6th in both 2006 and 2008.)

+ Florent Amodio won the Europeans Men’s event, but it wasn’t for a better-late-than-never lack of trying on Brian Joubert’s part. Saddled with only the 7th best SP in the opening round, Joubert pulled out all the stops (or as many as he can manage currently) to execute the best FS of the event, skating the way he surely would have preferred to skate about 11 months ago… and finish all the way up in the silver medal slot! Which just goes to show you still can’t count him out—even if he makes it so very easy to do.

+ The bronze medal went to Tomas Verner—who returned his quad to the free skate in grand style, but then fell out of a triple axel. As always, I look forward to the time when he can put it all together…

+ Fourth place went to Kevin van der Perren, who’s still got “it”… in this case, “it” being a clean quad, a clean triple axel, and not much else (although I believe he was technically clean on all his other jumps too).

+ What happened to Michal Brezina, you may have wondered? After all, he started the event in 2nd place but finished way down in 8th… was it a total crash and burn on his free skate (which is still to “American in Paris” in case you were wondering)? Not exactly. Yes, he fell twice (I believe the first fall was a quad attempt), but he also nailed both triple axels and several other jumps. I think his 10th place FS is more a testament to the depth of the European men in this event more than an out-and-out failure on Brezina’s part.

+ If you’re surprised to see me talking about the depth of the European men’s field (as opposed to, say, the Japanese men’s field), consider this: of the top five male finishers at Euros, four of them executed beautiful quads in the free skate. (Yes, gold-medalist Amodio won without one, but like Ryan Bradley in the U.S., his win came largely on the strength of his SP. He only pulled in the third-best FS.) I hate to sound like all the commentators who love to say that World’s success is going to be about the quads, but… let’s just say I hope Bradley (the only U.S. man at Worlds with a quad) remembers to pack his when he gets ready for Tokyo.

+ The dance event didn’t pull many surprises based on previous performances this season—Pechalat/Bourzat won gold, Bobrova/Soloviev took silver, and Kerr/Kerr claimed the bronze. Perhaps the most noticeable placement in the whole event was that Italy’s Faiella/Scali way down in 9th place after the SD (though they rebounded to 5th place by event’s end). Did he trip over her skirt yet AGAIN? You may wonder. No, but she botched up her twizzles pretty badly.

+ Over in pairs, Savcheko/Szolkowy won the pairs event… but take a look at their free skate (
Clip of the Day), particularly the side-by-side spins at 1:40 where Savchenko loses her edge, loses the spin, and barely even tries to catch back up to Szolkowy… standing there awkwardly for several seconds instead. I understand that freak mistakes happen, but given the quality of the silver medal Kavaguti/Smirnov performance (another Clip of the Day), I'm not sure S & S should have won this time.

Coming up in under two weeks… Four Continents! Yes, already.

Friday, February 4, 2011

2011 U.S. Nationals, Phase 5: The Parting Comments

As a wrap-up for U.S. Nationals, I bring back a feature I think I’ve done here in the past:

ANY QUESTIONS? (Um, yeah, I’ve got about a dozen)

1) After hearing it used by at least THREE ice dance teams in one season, I have to ask: should a song called “Fallin’” really be that popular a choice for a skating routine? :-)

2) Am I the only one who likes Rachael Flatt’s free skate this season? I went over to FS Universe this week and came away with that feeling…

3) Speaking of Flatt… Did anyone else read an article about her in which she said she hated wearing long-sleeve dresses for competition because they were too hot (meaning temperature, not attractiveness)? If so, did anyone else do a double-take when she debuted her new SP dress? I wonder if they simply decided a sleeveless version wouldn’t do her any favors, given her pale tone…

4) Can I please nominate Sean Rabbitt for this year’s Craziest Fall? He’s the redhead who did a Michael Jackson SP, tried to hit some poses just before launching into his footwork… and promptly lost his footing and crashed to the ground! I blame Florent Amodio…

5) Can we all agree that the skating world is a much more interesting place with Frank Carroll in it? Between his makeshift “curtain” while Jonathan Cassar felt himself up for a missing broken chain, to the look of death he shot to whoever knocked him in the head with a stuffed animal while awaiting Mirai Nagasu’s lackluster scores, the guy never ceases to entertain me.

6) Did anyone else see this Tweet from Mr. Johnny G. Weir during the men’s event?

JohnnyGWeir I can't believe the boys are competing right now for a US title and I'm on my couch in my underpants.First time since 1998. Not loving it.

I can only imagine what went through his head when he learned that Ryan Bradley won, considering he says Bradley never should have beaten him (meaning been able to beat him, I think) in the Welcome to my World book. (Yes, I’m reading it now.)

7) Did anyone miss Inoue/Baldwin in the pairs event? (I didn’t think so.)

8) Was it just me, or was Joelle Forte one of the most underappreciated competitors in the ladies field this time? She finished 9th with back-to-back, seemingly clean skates that included a total of three triple lutzes. I’d have had her around 7th.

9) Were you as impressed with 16 year-old Jason Brown as I was? I mentioned in a post
back in September that he was easily distinguished by his ponytail but with any luck, he’d be noticed for much more before long. And after skating the 7th best free skate of the day (without a triple axel, mind you), he pulled up to a 9th place finish. I don’t think he made it to the NBC coverage, but here it is as the Clip of the Day nonetheless. Remember what I said about Richard Dornbush? Consider this a heads-up for next year… WATCH FOR JASON BROWN. When he gets his triple axel and perhaps a quad too, this kiddo is going to be fierce.

10) On a different note, were you wincing as much as I was for another young-un named Joshua Farris? He’s the one who (as you may have heard) reportedly broke his ankle at some point during his warm-up or performance. The guy got through his performance somehow—fell three times and stumbled badly a few more times, but got through it—and as he sat in agony in the K&C, coach Tom Zakrajsek said something like “Are you glad you tried?” Poor Farris yelped “No!”… apparently no one knew just how bad it was (including Farris himself) until later that day. Must’ve been something of a relief to know there was a highly legit reason he couldn’t land much of anything! Hope he heals completely and rebounds nicely for next year.

11) What was it that Alissa Czisny said (to someone off-camera) while being photographed by NBC in the athlete lounge, awaiting word on her medal color? Oh wait, I know… “I’m not on TV right now, am I?” Well…

12) And in a similar athlete lounge moment, did you notice who was sitting next to Dornbush and Ross Miner as they waited in disbelief to see if they’d mad the podium for real? Yep, that was MY silver medal pick Adam Rippon… all parka’d up and trying to look cheerful despite a 5th place finish. A tad awkward, but I suppose it was better than the videographer saying “Hey, Adam, could you get out of the shot? Only medalists get to sit here.”

That’s all I’ve got for now! I hope to FINALLY get to a European’s recap sometime in the next few days! Hang in there…

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Iced In Indianapolis

As fate would have it, my neck of the woods has about 1/2" freezing rain coating everything at the moment... and we are expected to get hit with more this afternoon. So aside from a SKATING ON AIR preview (see below), I've got to put my focus today on work (while the Internet and electricity remain), family (as in prepping to go elsewhere if the power lines go down), and taking care of my 7 year old girl who just slipped on the driveway and cut her chin open (she's getting it looked at by a doc right now) :-(

There's much more to talk about this week, not the least of which is the results of Europeans (which also took place last weekend). I'll be back as soon as I can; until then, take this Clip of the Day of Sarah Meier's victory (!) and watch it all the way through... it'll do your heart good. See you soon and stay warm!

SKATING ON AIR Preview: Dear Sonja Henie...

The following is a preview, in the form of a letter, to one of the early chapters of my forthcoming book SKATING ON AIR: THE BROADCAST HISTORY OF AN OLYMPIC MARQUEE SPORT. Although my publisher has requested that I refrain from including any text excerpts until the book is actually released (sorry about that), I think you’ll get a good sense of what at least a fraction of the book is about. I’ll be posting more “previews” in weeks to come. Hope you enjoy!

Dear Sonja Henie,

When I set out to write about the broadcast history of figure skating a couple of years ago, I knew I’d be getting much more familiar with you and your myriad of contributions to the sport. After all, you passed away the year after I was born… I didn’t grow up with your films playing at my local cinema, or your famed Ice Revue coming to my neck of the woods to put on a show. My first awareness of you came in poring over a book about films put out by LIFE magazine—it showed lists of the most popular film stars of the 1930s and ‘40s, and had you listed as the #3 box-office draw of 1938. Wow, cool, I thought… surely not realizing what a unique figure you’d carved into Hollywood, much less the rest of the world, with your presence.

But oh, the things I’ve learned! Not just about your unstoppable drive, but your ability to draw a crowd to figure skating. Not just about the films you made, but the way said films laid the groundwork for “camera blocking” and other aspects of modern-day televised skating coverage. Not just about your extravagant show tours, but how those tours (along with the Ice Capades, Ice Follies, and others) helped sustain American interest in this sport when World War II denied nearly a decade of Olympic experience, and kept would-be rising stars at bay.

And then there was the other stuff that made you what you were; a fiercely demanding side of you with which I can’t really identify at all. There are already books that cover that aspect of your “contributions”… and rest assured, Skating on Air isn’t one of them.

So fear not, Miss Henie… I did my best to do you justice. (You might decide to haunt me if I’d done otherwise, anyway.)