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Cold War, Hot Ice

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Calgary 1988 Olympics and it’s effect on the sport today

I admit it. I’m a Figure Skating addict for the last 3 decades (which tells my age, but who cares in the 21st century?) I follow FS athletes on Instagram, I’m an active member of a FS group in Facebook where I’ve met some interesting people. I religiously watch every competition and championship. I get goosebumps and sometimes (manytimes) I cry.

Figure Skating is one of the joys that Covid took away from me, hopefully for a short period. To make up for the loss, as a true addict, I’ve been watching videos on YouTube. I’ve realised that my passion needs a special section on my blog. So here it is.

The Battle of Brians: When a door closes, look for a huge window of opportunity.

“I’m disappointed”. I remember the words of Brian Orser after loosing the gold medal to Brian Boitano in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. I watched that event on my TV in Washington DC. I was rooting for Orser because I found him better artistically, plus I wanted a Canadian to win in his homeland. He lost by 0.10 points, although he had won the free programme.

“I don’t know what to say,” Boitano said when the two of them were alone in the locker room. “I don’t know what to say either,” Orser replied bitterly.

Brian’s story begins when he thought its was the end of the world. He went on with his life and leveraged his accumulated experience to become a successful coach of many great champions. One of his key success factors, besides expertise, is psychology. He’s been there and he knows how his athletes are feeling.

Connecting the dots of past and present, I’ve noticed that despite the Cold War, at the Calgary Olympics, many Russian and Eastern block athletes became friends with their competitors from the West. It was right at before the Perestroika and the Wind of Change. Figure Skating athletes participated together in a rood-trip of shows all over Canada and America. Even a movie has been created Carmen on Ice, with East German champion Katarina Witt, American Brian Boitano and Canadian Brian Orser.

Relations formed at that time resulted the coaching system of today.

For a fact at that time, Brian met with then USSR coach Tatiana Tarasova. And it is said (yet not proven) that Tarasova advised and helped Evgenia Medvedeva to get Brian as her coach when she was leaving Eteri Tutberidze. For sure, because of that unfortunate event back then in Calgary, Brian Orser has been the only person to truly understand how Evgenia must have felt when she had lost the gold to Zagitova in the Beijing 2018 Olympics.

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