Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic figure skating - An insider's guide

Have you been enjoying this year’s Olympic Games? Lord knows that all the snow around here sure keeps you in the “winter mood.” I always find it interesting how we Americans pay attention to sports like freestyle skiing and 2-man bobsled once every four years, but then after watching it for an hour on TV, we are suddenly experts, knowing exactly what each competitor did wrong or should have done differently.

When it comes to figure skating, there is one person around here who has the credentials to back up any criticisms. Sandy Lamb is a coach with the Winter Club of Indianapolis, which is based at the Pepsi Coliseum and was one of the first
clubs in the country to become an official US Figure Skating affiliate.

Sandy started skating at the Coliseum when she was 7 years old and has never stopped. She’s coached for 43 years and has guided many skaters to national prominence and one senior team to the Olympic and World teams. She was elected the first female president of the Professional Skaters Association (the largest organization of ice skating professionals in the world) and has a sister who was one of the best ice dancers in the world before it became an official Olympic event. I asked her a few questions about this year’s Olympics, and here is her take:

Q: What do you enjoy most about the Olympics?
A: Since I was a coach at the Olympics many years ago, I know what the athletes have in the Olympic Village. The cafeteria is "the place" where all of the different athletes meet to have their meals. It is a great time for the different sports to get together and ask how the day went (on the ski hill, the bobsled run, the skating rink, etc.). Great fun!

Q: What are your favorite Olympic memories?
A: I always enjoy seeing what the configuration of the torch is that will burn during the entire games as well as who is selected to light the torch.

Q: Who are some skaters we should be looking for in these games?
A: For the Americans, watch for Jeremy Abbott and Evan Lysacek (last year’s World Champion) in the men’s competition. In the dance event, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto AND Charlie White and Meryl Davis are strong – both teams should be in the top 3 or 4. The pair event was won at our Nationals by a fairly new team with little experience, so it is a guess as to how well they will skate and do on the International scene. The ladies do not have a "name" that people recognize yet. This hurts figure skating because we usually have a recognized “Queen of the Ice.” We need that at these Olympics so people will latch on to figure skating again.

Q: Is America’s future bright in figure skating?
A: As I said before, we need a "name" in the ladies event so people can watch her and feel as though they know the champions. Rachael Flatt, the 2010 U.S. Ladies Champion, is very athletic and performs fairly consistently; however, she lacks beauty and flow in her skating.

Sounds like my skating, but my only shot at Olympic glory is if they add channel changing as an official competition. Maybe someday.

Submitted by Andy Klotz

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