Choreographer Lori Nichol and coach Frank Carroll, both members of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, shared their thoughts on skating during a panel discussion at the recent PSA Conference and Trade Show in Palm Springs, Calf.
Renowned coach and cho reographer Scott Brown moderated the discussion, which took place at the Rancho Las Palmas Omni Resort and Spa on May 24.
What do you love about skating?
LN: “I love the feeling of gliding, flying and just skating every step imaginable.”
“The life it has given me. It has given me so many friendships and through all the ups and downs, it has been incredible.”
FC: “I like the frictionlessness of skating. I also love the feeling of flying and the push and sound of the blade against the ice.”
“Everything about it appealed to me as a youngster, even falling. It’s a feeling and is restorative.”
“Skating has been good to me. It’s opened up a lot of opportunities and I’m grateful it came into my life.”
What careers would’ve you pursued if not for skating?
LN: “Architecture or interior design.”
FC: “Probably law, my dad had pushed me in that direction.”
What’s the most important thing you think about when working with a skater?
LN: “Self-worth. I try to make the skater’s experience magical and beautiful and give them information that will empower them.”
FC: “I try to teach them perseverance and that they have to earn success and be gracious in life.”
“I also try to teach skaters what they can accomplish, and that it’s not about winning, but about the process.”
How do you spend time away from the rink?
LN: “I like to travel and I also enjoy reading.”
FC: “I love to sit in my backyard and read. I’d rather read than watch a movie on a flight and usually bring two or three books when traveling to a competition.”
“I also like to go to the gym and exercise.”
What do you consider your biggest success?
LN: “I define success as a choice. Frank has supported me 100 percent [since I started doing choreography] and working as hard as I did and achieving what I have is all about having a choice in life.”
FC: “Evan winning the Olympic gold medal. I had long given up on that so when Evan came along, it was really all about training and doing well.”
What’s the most difficult situation/obstacle you have faced?
FC: “The situation with Christopher Bowman. I had coached him from the time he was 4 years old and we spent 18 years together. It was an impossible thing for me to help him [with his situation] and knowing how talented and charismatic he was and to watch him fail was the hardest thing for me.”
What are your favorite programs?
LN: Carolina Kostner’s “Ave Maria” (Franz Schubert) short program from last season. “She’s my Heidi and is as sweet and pure as you see on TV. She has a pure heart and to see her overcome every challenge and skate lights out in Sochi was great.”
FC: Michelle Kwan’s “East of Eden” (Lee Holdridge) short program from the 2000‒2001 and 2001‒2002 seasons (she also used it for her exhibition number during the 1994‒1995 and 1995‒1996 seasons). “It’s such an uplifting, gorgeous melody that Kenny Congemi had initially recommended.”
Michelle Kwan’s exhibition program to “On My Own” from “Les Misérables”(Kaho Shimada) from the 1997‒1998 season. “You could swear when you saw Michelle skate to it, it was like she was singing and was at one with the music.”
Who has influenced you the most?
LN: “My mom was a concert pianist and my dad, a businessman, could sing.”
“The creativity wasn’t born, it had to be trained.”
“My longtime coach, Don Laws, had me work with other coaches and choreographers during the summers and one of the people he had me work with was Ricky Harris, who opened up a whole new world for me.”
FC: “My dad was an incredible artist and could capture an image beautifully. He was also a musician and we had a violin, tom toms and other instruments around the house when I grew up and I would play them.”
“Maribel Vinson [his coach] would take us to the theater and expose us to musicals and performers. She had even brought us to see a ventriloquist. She wanted us to learn about things like the timing and pauses and was way ahead of her time.”
What do you never do as a coach?
FC: “Never lie to a student or pull the wool over [his or her] eyes, be fair and truthful.”
“You have to look at the skater’s strengths and weaknesses.”
“If they [the skaters] stick to the principles and what they’re building on, they will succeed.”
By Liz Leamy
Marina Zoueva, coach of Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, picked up Coach of the Year and Paul McGrath Choreographer of the Year awards at last weekend’s Professional Skaters Association Conference and Trade Show in Palm Springs, Calif.
Here are some memorable quotes from the event:
Lori Nichol on choreography:
“Use all the different emotions and forces from life and use them with your music.”
“Just like the skills coaches use to teach a jump, break artistic elements down into components.”
“Choreography is not something where you get on the ice and wave a magic wand.”
“How you get in and out of positions is what matters.”
“Again and again, I would like to thank Meryl and Charlie.”
“All my career I wanted my work to be about more than skating.”
“Every minute and second in a program counts; I [think of this] because I’m doing so many programs and there’s so much for them [skaters] to express and say.”
“I always want skaters to be in a process of feeling things and to be in the moment.”
Scott Brown on step sequences:
“Everything happens in layers.”
“There’s a real balance between requirements and being creative.”
“Footwork shouldn’t just look like turns and steps but have relationship to music.”
David Glynn — coach of U.S. silver medalist and Olympian Polina Edmunds:
“I like how jump repetition was a focus and the idea of getting the skater to keep trying.”
“I think U.S. Figure Skating and the PSA are great and keep making strides every year toward raising the standard.”
Rohene Ward — choreographer for U.S. silver medalist and Olympian Jason Brown:
“It’s my first conference and I’m really enjoying it. The best thing is seeing everybody in a noncompetitive situation come together to work in a collaborative manner and help each other.”
Mauro Bruni — former U.S. men’s competitor and New York-based coach:
“This conference is such a wonderful tool for coaches. It’s amazing to see the best coaches in the sport doing what they do best.”
Todd Sand, developmental coach of the year award winner with wife, Jenni:
“It’s been an incredible journey and we look forward to doing more.”
“We feel honored to influence young people every day.”
Frank Carroll at the jump seminar:
“I like very quiet shoulders, with the force and strength on the skating side, with the free side very controlled.”
“I’m always stressing a fantastic landing position; try to get [the skater] there every time, it makes [the jump] look like a million dollars.”
Coach Ken Congemi on the conference and influence of coaches:
“I think everyone is here because they love learning and there are always so many great things to take away.”
“There’s such a great deal you get from coaches that goes beyond just technique; it’s a pretty big thing.”
“Coaches have such an impact on their students. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of some of the things my coaches taught me. Their words become part of you.”
U.S. Olympic Committee Director of Education Chris Snyder:
“Coaches hold the power of authority and you can dial it up or dial it down.”
“The USOC wants to recognize the education the PSA does [with its coaches].”
“The PSA was the first one [of the governing bodies] that we passed with flying colors [for its educational program] and the USOC will use the PSA as a role model for educating coaches in other sports.”
PSA Executive Director Jimmie Santee:
“We try to provide the best education we can give coaches to help make the skating community better and stronger.”
“This has been a great environment for everyone and they seem very invigorated. At the same time, relationships are being formed and strengthened.”
“The acknowledgment from the USOC that our programs will be used for other (USOC) sports is a big feather in our cap. It says a lot about what we are and where we’re at.”