Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Monday, December 05, 2005


The last American man to win an Olympic Gold Medal (in 1988), Brian Boitano is still going strong as a professional, headlining, most recently, Holiday Celebration on Ice in Virginia (ed. note: The article calls Boitano the first man to land a Triple Axel. It was actually Canada's Vern Taylor in 1978; Boitano tried to be the first man to land a Quadruple Toe Loop. He fell on it in 1987 and it may have cost him the World Championship. He landed a flawed one at the Worlds in 1988 -- about a half hour after Canadian Kurt Browning got credit for being the first).

Now, Boitano is looking forward to another American -- though, a woman -- his good friend, Michelle Kwan, standing atop the podium in 2006. (A much more frequent feat, as American Kristi Yamaguchi won in 1992, Tara Lipinski in 1998 and Sarah Hughes in 2002).

I'm not surprised by Brian's handicapping. I worked with him during the 1996-1997 season, when Brian was part of the ABC-TV announcer team. That year, Michelle Kwan was not skating well (the rumor was that her boots were to blame; she'd signed an endorsement deal and her father was insisting she stick to it, no matter how many problems Michelle was having with her skates). She lost her National title to Tara Lipinski and, by the time she skated her "Taj Mahal" program at Worlds, the only way she could have won the title was for Russia's Irina Slutskaya to beat Tara in the long program.

Although Brian was not working that day (his contract only called for him to announce during the Men's Programs), he came to the broadcast booth to watch Michelle skate. All during her program, Brian kept chanting, "Come on, Chelley, come on, stay up, keep it together." Even during Irina's program, Brian kept saying the same thing, "Come on, Chelley. Go, Chelley," and cheering every one of Irina's jumps as if they were Michelle's. (Michelle ended up 2nd that year, behind Tara).

Overall, I found Brian a pleasure to work with. From the beginning, he made it very clear that he would only be commentating on the technical elements. He had no desire to share biographical information about the skaters or judge music/costume choices. To that end, when Michael Weiss tried to be the first man to land a Quad at Nationals, Brian was happy to explain why he didn't think the attempt would be ratified (it wasn't, as it was clearly two-footed), but stayed away from musing what the tie-dyed shirt Michael had chosen to wear had to do with anything. (Well, he stayed away from musing about it on the air, anyway. Backstage, it was often a case of anything goes. For all of us.)

That was my favorite thing about working with Brian. He knew his limitations and wisely stuck to talking about only those areas in which he was an expert. One can only hope that this year's broadcast team in Turino will be as sage.


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