Archive | May, 2012

Never Give Up: Olympian Gregory Tells His Story of Perseverance

24 May

By Amy Rosewater

Scott Gregory could have given up on his Olympic skating dreams many times.

He could have given up when he blew out his kneecap. He could have given up when he re-injured his knee.

Or when he broke up with partners. Or when he hurt his back.

But as Gregory writes in his book, Champion Mindset: Refusing to Give Up Your Dreams, he never did.

If he had, he might never have made one trip to the Olympic Winter Games, let alone two. But Gregory, a freestyle skater turned ice dancer, wound up winning two U.S. titles (with Suzanne Semanick in 1987 and 1988), making six trips to the World Championships and competing twice in the Olympics (in 1984 with Elisa Spitz and in 1988 with Semanick).

“My purpose in writing this book was to help readers,” Gregory said. “The goal was to help them see that they may have problems, too, but not to give up.”

Although Gregory was an elite competitive skater, not many people — he even said not many people close to him in the skating world — really understand the obstacles he overcame to reach his goals. Scott Hamilton, a skating contemporary of Gregory’s, wasn’t fully aware of Gregory’s triumphs.

“After he read the book, he said something to me like, ‘It’s amazing that you still even skated.”

But he did. And he skated well. Beyond well, in fact.

Gregory grew up by Skaneateles Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in central New York state. As a youngster, he skated upon the frozen lake. His mother was an elementary school physical education teacher and his father was a businessman and airline pilot who flew with the Air National Guard. Gregory had two siblings, a sister, Heather, and a brother, Bill Jr. Scott was the youngest of the three.

Gregory took to skating quickly and started private lessons shortly after he first glided on the ice. At a camp at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a coach displayed an Axel and asked Gregory to try it. Although Gregory previously had done some initial training on the jump, he wound up landing it on his first attempt there.

A young girl at the rink took notice right away, as Gregory writes in the book, she said, “Can you believe that? It took me months to learn that move, and that kid nails it on the first try! That’s not fair!”

It wasn’t long before Gregory started training with Richard Callaghan and soon he was winning regional competitions.

And when Gregory was 15, he followed Callaghan to his new training center in Philadelphia. It was a difficult decision for Gregory, since he had to move away from his family, but he wanted to continue training at a high level and move up in the rankings.

But things did not go smoothly.

“I bombed at South Atlantics,” he said.

He could have quit then.

But he received a letter from his father that inspired him to continue, telling him, “Work diligently, persevere and thou shalt conquer.’’

“That letter really touched me,” Gregory said.

Yet things didn’t improve right away. In fact, they got tougher. He split his right kneecap in half while performing a Russian split jump and was forced to undergo surgery. Shortly after his recovery, Gregory split the same kneecap again. Doctors told him his body no longer could handle the intensity of jumping and suggested he should quit skating altogether.

But that didn’t stop Gregory from skating. He decided to turn his attention to ice dance and his skating career was reborn.

“Obviously, it was really hard for me,” Gregory said. “I was seeing myself competing with the Scott Hamiltons of the time. I think it’s every kid’s dream as a figure skater to make it on your own.

“But after my second knee injury I realized I couldn’t go back and free skate. But I had developed such a passion for skating, gliding across the ice and using the ice as a medium to express yourself. Ice dancing became a great medium for me to keep on doing that.’’

He started ice dancing with Judy Ferris, and after skating just six months together, they won U.S. junior title. But he decided to change coaches and move to Wilmington, Del., to train with Ron Ludington. Ferris did not want to move so Gregory had to search for a new partner. He moved to Delaware and began training with Elisa “Lisa” Spitz.

At the 1982 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Indianapolis, the couple finished third. The following year, they earned a silver medal, and in 1984, they placed third again and earned a berth to the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo.

The 1984 U.S. Championships were bittersweet for Gregory, because he had hoped to place either first or second, but at least there was the silver lining of making the Olympic team.

Gregory said the festivities of the Olympic Games were everything he dreamed of them being.

“I’ll never forget the Opening Ceremonies and the roar when the American team came in,” he said. “It was a cold, winter day, and I was up front with Scott Hamilton and I just remember the rush from the audience.”

On the ice, however, things were not quite as rosy.

Gregory and Spitz placed 10th at the Olympic Winter Games and 10th at the subsequent World Championships. By then, their relationship had come undone and they decided to stop skating together.

Gregory met with Ludington and although he still loved skating, he was not enthused about starting over with another partner. But Ludington convinced him not to quit and to try skating with Semanick. Although Semanick was 16 when she started skating with Gregory (who was 24 at the time), they managed to gel quickly and place third in their first trip to the U.S. Championships together in 1985 and make the World Team. For Gregory, this was a huge victory because he had been worried that he would not be able to maintain his status on the World Team with a new (and young) partner.

Two years later, they became U.S. champions. They defended their title the following year, in 1988. But not long before the U.S. Championships in 1988, Gregory injured his back. Somehow, despite plenty of time off the ice, Gregory pulled himself together to compete at the U.S. Championships in Denver, win a U.S. crown and qualify for a second trip to the Olympic Games. One of his biggest supporters during this time was Robbie Kane, a longtime coach.

“Somewhere along the line, I developed a champion mindset of courage and fortitude,” Gregory writes. “In the end, the key to living my dream came from within. My job was to make a choice, to do my best, to keep a positive attitude and to commit to persevere.”

After the Olympics in Calgary, Gregory turned pro. He coaches in Newark, Del., along with his longtime mentor and former coach, Ron Ludington. His wife, Pam Duane Gregory, is also a coach there. She coached Kimmie Meissner to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and to a World title the same year.

Since the book was published, several of his skaters who have read the book at the rink in Delaware have approached Gregory about his injury-laden career.

“I can’t believe you went through all those injuries, and those breakups,” one kid told me. “A lot of people don’t know my story, but I know how many people are frustrated by injuries and other problems and they can get through.”

Gregory cautions that skaters need to listen to their bodies when it comes to injuries, but with positive support from coaches and parents, it is possible to achieve many of their dreams.

“I was so lucky to have my parents’ support,” Gregory said.

Throughout the book, he mentions how his success on the ice it was for his parents to be supportive off of it, whether it was through letters or conversations. He also made a point of saying how his parents supported him but didn’t burden him with extra pressure, which is something he looks back on with appreciation, and hopes parents of skaters today can understand, too.

And he feels lucky to continue to be involved with skating. Now he hopes his experience and his words will help the next generation of skaters who are trying to reach their goals. If he has one objective with the book it is that perseverance is key to achieving any goal — sometimes a skater can be thrown into a situation that doesn’t seem too positive at the time, but it could wind up leading to something positive.

“Things happen in life and at the time, sometimes you can’t understand it,” Gregory said. “Why did my kneecap split twice? Well, it happened and it led me to ice dancing and to two Olympics. That’s what I’m trying to share with other people through this book.”

For more information: Scott Gregory’s book, Champion Mindset: Refusing to Give Up on Your Dreams, written with Diane Cook, was published by Fruitbearer Publishing, LLC, at his website at http://www.scottgregoryolympian.com

Most Popular of All-Time – 100k Edition

22 May

Unveiled in the days before Skate America last year, the purpose of the SKATING magazine blog was to provide the types of coverage and stories SKATING magazine has provided for 89 years. The SKATING magazine blog has now surpassed 100,000 hits, and we’d like to thank everyone who continues to read and share what they see here at skatingmagazineblog.com!

The Top Five Posts from SKATING magazine Blog (Based on views)

1. Official 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships Program

In the lead-up to the 2012 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the official event program was posted online and free to all fans in a digital format for the first time. The program includes stories, editorials and bios on all of the competitors at the 2012 U.S. Championships.

2. Michelle Kwan – Hall of Fame Class of 2012

The most decorated figure skater in American history, she’s also the most photogenic too. Michelle Kwan has been featured on more SKATING covers than anyone else. Take a trip back through time with her first seven SKATING covers. Kwan was also featured on an eighth cover when she was elected to the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

3. Canton Fun and Games in Quebec City

Thanks to a tweet from @AlexShibutani, this playful piece by Lynn Rutherford at the 2011 Grand Prix Final received a lot of attention. Relive the story behind the “Canton-ooga Choo Choo” with this blog entry.

4. The ISU Recognizes Brandon Mroz Quad Lutz

On Sept. 16, 2011, Brandon Mroz laded the first quad Lutz in competition in Colorado Springs, Colo. After more than a month, the ISU officially recognized and confirmed the feat. Click above to read the story and re-watch the history.

5. Four Minutes

How can your life change in just four minutes? The amazing first-person story, written by Gwen Abbott Asmussen, sister of U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, about her brother’s 2012 U.S. Championships free skate and everything that occurred on and off the ice.

U.S. Assignments Announced for 2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series

21 May

The International Skating Union (ISU) announced today the athlete selections for the 2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. The Grand Prix begins Oct. 21-23 with 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America from Seattle/Kent, Wash.

The Grand Prix Series, entering its 18th season, incorporates six international figure skating competitions as a unified point-scoring series that awards prize money to eligible skaters. At the conclusion of the series, athletes’ points are totaled, and the top six ladies, men, pairs and ice dancing teams are invited to compete at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. The Grand Prix Final is scheduled for Dec. 5-9, 2012, in Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The event will run concurrently with the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.

Skate America will feature the four reigning U.S. champions including Ashley Wagner (ladies), Jeremy Abbott (men’s), Caydee Denney and John Coughlin (pairs) and Meryl Davis and Charlie White (ice dancing). Other notable competitors include Russia’s Alena Leonova, the 2012 World ladies silver medalist and Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, who is the 2011 Skate America champion. Pairs team Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, also of Russia, are two-time reigning World silver medalists.

Gracie Gold, the 2012 U.S. junior champion and World Junior silver medalist, will make her Grand Prix debut in the Series’ second event, Skate Canada. She will compete at Rostelecom Cup alongside Johnny Weir. Weir, a three-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian, is set to return to competition for the first time since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, when he takes the ice at Rostelecom Cup (Moscow) and Trophée Eric Bompard (Paris).

Two newly formed American pairs teams received one assignment each with Caitlin Yankowskas and Joshua Reagan competing at Cup of China (Shanghai) and Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig skating at NHK Trophy (Miyagi, Japan). With the exception Davis, each skater competed on the Grand Prix Series with their previous partners.

The full list of Team USA’s assignments, as well as the full international lineup for Skate America, are below (listed alphabetically). Visit www.isu.org for the full list of selections across the Grand Prix Series.

2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America — Seattle/Kent, Wash. — Oct. 19-21

Ladies:

Rachael Flatt – Will make her fourth Skate America appearance; earned the silver medal in 2009, ‘10

Christina Gao – Made Gran Prix Series debut in 2011, placing fifth at Cup of China and 10th at Rostelecom Cup

Ashley Wagner – Makes Skate America debut as reigning U.S. and Four Continents champion

Men’s

Jeremy Abbott – Begins sixth Grand Prix Series with first-ever appearance at Skate America

Douglas Razzano – Placed seventh at 2011 Skate America in Ontario, Calif.

Pairs

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin – Finished fourth at 2011 Skate America in their Grand Prix debut

Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff – Only other international completion included a fourth-place finish at 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy

Ice Dancing

Meryl Davis and Charlie White – Look for third consecutive Skate America gold; finished fourth in 2007

Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt – Return to Skate America after finishing sixth in 2010

Skate Canada International — Windsor, Ontario — Oct. 26-28

Ladies

Gracie Gold – Is the 2011 JGP Estonia gold medalist

Caroline Zhang – Makes third Skate Canada appearance; finished fifth in 2008, eighth in 2009

Men’s

Ross Miner – Looks to improve on sixth-place finish in 2011

Pairs

Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker – Debuted on Grand Prix in 2011 with seventh-place showing at Skate America

Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin – Also competed on Grand Prix for the first time at 2011 Skate America (6th)

Ice Dancing

Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue – Begin second season together; are the 2012 U.S. bronze medalists, finished 10th at 2012 World Championships

Cup of China — Shanghai — Nov. 2-4

Ladies

Mirai Nagasu – Makes fourth straight Cup of China appearance; reigning silver medalist; owner of two Grand Prix Series medals

Men’s

Adam Rippon – Starts fifth Grand Prix season; has won two Series medals

Pairs

Caitlin Yankowskas and Joshua Reagan – First Grand Prix assignment as a partnership.

Ice Dancing

Madison Chock and Evan Bates – Begin second season; finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at 2011 Skate Canada and 2011 Trophée Eric Bompard

Rostelecom Cup — Moscow — Nov. 9-11

Ladies

Gracie Gold

Agnes Zawadzki – Competes at third straight Rostelecom Cup (fourth in 2010, seventh in ’11)

Caroline Zhang – Has competed on Grand Prix circuit since 2007; first appearance in Russia

Men’s

Richard Dornbush – Starts second Grand Prix season after finishing fourth at 2011 Skate America, sixth at 2011 Cup of China

Johnny Weir – Has medaled in four of five entries at Rostelecom Cup

Pairs

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin

Ice Dancing: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani – Commence third Grand Prix season; have medaled at all four Grand Prix assignments, qualified for 2011 Grand Prix final and placed fifth

 

Trophée Eric Bompard — Paris — Nov. 16-18

Ladies

Ashley Wagner – Won bronze in only other appearance at this event (2007)

Men’s

Jeremy Abbott – Has won seven Grand Prix medals, including 2008 Grand Prix Final gold

Johnny Weir – Won 2004 Trophée Bompard title

Ice Dancing

Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue – Finished sixth at 2011 Skate America in only other Grand Prix experience

 

NHK Trophy — Miyagi, Japan — Nov. 23-25

Ladies

Alissa Czisny – 2012 marks ninth Grand Prix season; finished sixth at only other appearance at NHK Trophy (2007)

Agnes Zawadzki – Finished eighth at 2011 NHK Trophy

Men’s

Richard Dornbush

Ross Miner – Reigning NHK Trophy bronze medalist

Adam Rippon – Placed sixth at 2009 NHK Trophy

Pairs

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir – Placed seventh at 2011 NHK Trophy; have competed on Grand Prix since 2009

Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig – First Grand Prix assignment of their partnership.

Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker

Ice Dancing

Meryl Davis and Charlie White – Won this event in 2009, ’10; placed fourth in only other appearance (2006)

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani – Reigning NHK Trophy champions and 2010 bronze medalists

Want to be in SKATING magazine?

16 May

Michelle Kwan…Brian Boitano…You? SKATING magazine is giving its readers the opportunity to grace the same pages as the greatest figure skaters of all time. Beginning with the next issue (June/July featuring Brian Boitano on the cover), fans of SKATING will be able to connect and voice their thoughts with the chance of having their name, tweet or Facebook comment published in the 89-year-old staple of U.S. Figure Skating, SKATING magazine.

Each month, we will announce a discussion topic and, in 140 characters or less on Twitter or a short few sentences on Facebook, you will have the opportunity to answer the question and appear in the next issue of SKATING magazine. Participation is open to everyone. Fans will be able to connect through the U.S. Figure Skating Twitter page and the U.S. Figure Skating Facebook Page.

*Please note that anyone who submits a response is authorizing U.S. Figure Skating to use their name, photo and opinion in SKATING magazine.

This month’s question:

What is your favorite skating memory?

Please answer in a tweet @USFigureSkating or in the comment section on Facebook!

Agnes Zawadzki Visits Omaha

10 May

On May 9, Agnes Zawadzki, the 2012 U.S. bronze medalist, visited Omaha, Neb., in anticipation of the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The event, being held for the first time in Nebraska, is slated for Jan. 20-27, 2013, at the CentuyLink Center. With Mother’s Day around the corner, Zawadzki gave several interviews to talk about her skating career, upcoming high school graduation and the U.S. Championships (hint, hint – tickets make great Mother’s Day gifts!).

Other highlights from the day included meeting local skaters from the Moylan Premier FSC, FSC of Omaha and Blade & Edge SC. The Moylan Iceplex graciously opened their doors and ice to Agnes and the skaters. Between interviews, Zawadzki was treated to a tour of Borsheims, one of the largest independent jewelers in the country, and a delicious lunch at Stokes, where she had her first-ever enchiladas.

A quick, but productive day that has Zawadzki, U.S. Figure Skating and the local organizing committee excited for a great event in January. It will be here before you know it!

Thank you to Agnes, and, of course, to everyone in Omaha who showed us such a wonderful time !

It’s Not Easy to Skate Through High School (Omaha World Herald)

Zawadzki’s first in-studio TV interview on 6 News (WOWT Omaha)

2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America

4 May

U.S. Figure Skating has announced that 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America will be held on October 19-21 at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington (Seattle).

Useful Links

2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America Official Site

All-Event Tickets (Public tickets will go on sale May 5th at 1 p.m. ET)

*Single session tickets will be available at a later date*

Official 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America Press Release

2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America Fact Sheet (PDF)

Important Dates

The list of athlete entries for the 2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series, including Skate America, will be announced on May 21, 2012.

Thursday, Oct. 18: Official Practice 11 a.m. (All times Pacific)
Friday, Oct. 19: Pairs short, Men’s short 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20: Ladies short, Short dance 12:30 p.m., Men’s free, Pairs free 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 21: Free dance, Ladies free 11:45 a.m., Skating Spectacular (exhibition) 6 p.m.

Skate America on TV

NBC Sports will broadcast coverage of the 2012 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series throughout the fall, including a live afternoon broadcast from 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America.

NBC’s broadcast from ShoWare Center is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. (ET) on Oct. 21. (subject to change)

Live and on-demand streaming of the event will also be available with details to be released later this summer.

About Skate America

Skate America is an Olympic-style international figure skating competition held since 1979 that will feature three days of competition featuring 52 world-class figure skaters in ladies, men’s, pairs and ice dancing. Skate America is one of the six events that makes up the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. Skate America champions include five-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan and Olympic champions Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano and Evan Lysacek.

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating

The Grand Prix Series, now in its 18th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative point-scoring format. Approximately 300 athletes from 30 countries are expected to participate. Each athlete is eligible to score points in two of the six scheduled events. The top six point-earners in each discipline qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final Dec. 6-9, in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Athletes will compete for a total of more than $1.35 million in prize money throughout the series. Skate America was accepted into the Grand Prix Series in 1995, when the series was developed.

2011 Hilton HHonors Skate America

Last year, 2011 Hilton HHonors Skate America took place from Oct. 21-23 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. The event featured future 2012 World champions Carolina Kostner and Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy. Team USA earned two of the four gold medals as 2012 U.S. silver medalist Alissa Czisny claimed the ladies crown by .13 points ahead of Kostner and 2012 World silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White earned ice dancing gold by nearly 22 points. The top U.S. male was Richard Dornbush who finished in fourth place behind Michal Brezina and the top U.S. pair was Caydee Denney and John Coughlin who finished in fourth behind Savchenko and Szolkowy.

May Cover – SKATING magazine

3 May

Every month we will unveil the new cover for the upcoming issue of SKATING magazine. Here is the cover for the May issue featuring U.S. champions and World silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White:

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