Notable Quotes from the PSA Conference and Trade Show

27 May

Marina Zoueva (Photo by Liz Leamy)

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.”

Marina Zoueva:

“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.”

Carroll delivers powerful, inspiring message at PSA Conference

23 May

By Liz Leamy


Frank Carroll

Magic happens if one has a mindset of confidence, determination and commitment.

That was the message Frank Carroll delivered to the 400-plus coaches in a keynote speech at the 2014 Professional Skaters Conference and Trade Show in Palm Springs, Calif., on Thursday.

The coaching icon, who has taught some of the sport’s biggest stars including Michelle Kwan, Evan Lysacek and Gracie Gold, brought the crowd at the Rancho Las Palmas resort to its  feet with an emotionally charged story about his rise to the top of the sport.

Describing his journey from the first time he started skating as a young boy growing up in Worcester, Mass., through his climb to becoming one of the sport’s most decorated and successful coaches, Carroll spoke with humility, heart and candor.

“My career has been very long and it’s been wonderful,” he said. “It’s also been a bumpy ride and you know what? I wouldn’t change a single thing.”

For many years, he spent most of his time at rinks around the Los Angeles area teaching from the wee hours of the morning through the evening in order to cultivate his skaters.

“There were no windows and I wouldn’t see daylight all day long,” Carroll said. “I [just wanted] to be the best coach I could be.”

Carroll said he has been most influenced by his former mentor, the legendary Maribel Vinson, the nine-time U.S. champion and 1932 Olympic bronze medalist, who lost her life along with her daughters and the entire U.S. figure skating team when Sabena Flight 541 crashed en route to the 1961 World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

“She was a teacher who I owe all of my success,” he said. “She based her teaching on intelligence, technique and theory and explained there was a total science behind everything you did.”

From the moment he set foot on frozen swamp pond behind his childhood home, Carroll said he had loved the whole concept and feel of skating. He began training and competing at local rinks, yet was told by some people he would never be good enough to make it as a successful competitor. Rather than be deterred, however, this only made Carroll more determined to achieve success and he wound up winning two U.S. junior medals, a silver and bronze.

“I was a very determined young man,” he said.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross University, where he majored in education, Carroll went on to tour with the Ice Follies for several years before settling in the Los Angeles area to coach full time.
“I learned a lot about skating and performing from the Ice Follies,” he said.

By age 37, Carroll had become known as a premiere international American coach who had been responsible for helping his talented young skater, Linda Fratianne, the eventual four-time U.S. champion and 1980 Olympic silver medalist, qualify for the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team.

From that point on, Carroll’s coaching career remained on an upward trajectory. During the mid to late 1980s, he helped the late Christopher Bowman win two U.S. titles and two World medals. He went on to teach Kwan, Lysacek and dozens of other top U.S. and World contenders. Last season, he helped Gold clinch her first U.S. title and Denis Ten of Kazhakstan claim bronze at the 2014 Olympics.

Despite his rousing level of success, Carroll has remained humble, which was apparent as he reflected on his career.

Over the years, Carroll has been dealt some major blows, including an incident in which a student had lost her life in a car accident en route to the rink, a teenage skater who had succumbed unexpectedly to bone cancer and the shock of discovering a good friend who had sadly ended his own life. Shaken by these incidents, Carroll has managed to view these tragedies as a means to continue to work harder and gain greater wisdom.

“I was told [to] teach and teach and teach,” Carroll said. “I did that and I think teaching and hard work saved my sanity.”

Carroll also talked about his experiences as the longtime coach of Kwan. He mentioned the media frenzy the two experienced during the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics and the poignant exchange Kwan had with President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, during the Goodwill Games, where they had gone to watch her.

During this time, Carroll said Kwan had become such a huge star that they had to travel to events with an FBI security guard named Larry, someone he described as a “wonderful guy.”

One of Carroll’s fondest memories was when he overheard a mom telling her daughter at 1996 Skate America that she had “witnessed one of the greatest athletes ever” [Kwan] and “never forget that experience.”

Through his incredible journey, Carroll has attained amazing insight, wisdom and compassion, while remaining as steadfast to his true passion of skating.

“I love the feeling of being out there skating,” he said. “If there’s one song that is the basis of this keynote address, it’s ‘I’m Still Here’ from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Follies.”

Tweeting for Meryl

20 May

The votes have been cast, all that is left is to name a winner. Social media will be big in deciding if Meryl Davis will take hope the top prize in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and the Olympic champ had no lack of support.

Michael BuckleyJennifer LopezAlex Shibutani  Johnny Weir Gabby Douglas  Marissa Castelli Gracie Gold Jason Brown and Mikaela Shiffrin Charlie White Evan Lysacek Kristi Yamaguchi Ashley Wagner

Maia Shibutani

American Ice Theatre’s “Let’s Dance!” set for May 31

12 May

American Ice Theatre (AIT) will debut its first production in Chicago titled “Let’s Dance!” on May 31 at 7 p.m. Set to take place at the McFetridge Sports Center, this one-time premier event will be fun for the whole family.Jason Brown

Tickets can be purchased at General Admission is $30 and VIP Seating and reception with the skaters is $60. Along with the AIT ensemble, the show features work from finalists in the Young Artists Showcase (YAS), an online international figure skating choreography competition. Guest stars include 2014 Olympic Team bronze medalist Jason Brown, 2011 U.S. champion Ryan Bradley, 2013 U.S. champion Harmony Theatre Company and U.S. novice silver medalist Paige Ryberg.

AIT is a non-profit “dance on ice” company comprised of accomplished and nationally recognized figure skaters performing with a mission to infuse the art of dance to the ice by presenting contemporary and sophisticated work.

“My goal for American Ice Theatre is to be accessible enough that people on the streets of America know and appreciate what ice theatre is as they do for ballet,” AIT Founder and Director Jodi Porter said. “It is a model that can extend the life of a skater and allow for more career opportunities. There are talented national and world level skaters that don’t make the Olympic Team yet are beautiful to watch artistically. We are an artistic outlet for skaters to continue to grow and perform.”

“Let’s Dance, a celebration of artistic figure skating” takes the audience on a journey through classical, cultural, and contemporary dance on the ice. American Ice Theatre brings the best of ice and dance together in its inaugural production in Chicago.AITphotoPress

“AIT was built from my personal education and professional experience in dance and professional figure skating,” Porter said. “I have been actively educating others about the art and processes taken from dance and its translation to the ice. I see this fresh enthusiasm growing tremendously thanks to YAS and artistic skating seems to be a perfect fit here in Chicago.”

The performance is sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating and supported by the Windy City Figure Skating Club. For additional information call Jodi Porter (847) 920-4262 or email

Photos courtesy of Marla Brown

Presidential Conversations

9 May

In early April, members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team headed to the nation’s most famous address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to meet with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. In addition to the responses seen in SKATING magazine, here are how the conversations went for Nathan Bartholomay and Marissa Castelli.

Nathan Bartholomay:

POTUS: Nathan, it is an honor to have you here.

N: It’s a privilege to be here sir. Truly an honor.

P: My wife and I are very busy but we did get to see some of the figure skating, we are so proud of you and Felicia.

N: Wow thank you sir, I can’t tell you what that means coming from you!

P: Thank you for representing your country so well at the Olympics.

“Short and sweet”

Marissa Castelli

“I talked to Obama about my medal,” Castelli said. “He touched the medal and said ‘that’s so heavy, I am star-struck'”

“Then I saw Michelle (Obama) and she said ‘Oh, you’re a pair skater!’ Castelli added. “We then went on to talk about trusting your partner and how she would never be able to do it.”

“It was a fun conversation.”


Skate for Hope set for May 3

10 Apr

Olympic gold medalists Scott Hamilton and Sarah Hughes will join 12 U.S., World and Olympic figure skaters at the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Ice Arena on May 3 as guest emcees in this year’s Skate for Hope Awareness and Research Fundraising Show.

Hughes Hollendar

Sarah Hughes and Dan Hollander pose with a local skater at 2013 Skate for Hope                          (Keegan James Photography)

The show will also include local skaters of all ages who raise funds for cancer research to earn their spots in the cast. Skate for Hope is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to the goal of eradicating breast cancer. To date, Skate for Hope has raised more than $500,000 for breast cancer research.

Tickets for the star-studded show start at just $11 and are on sale through, all Ticketmaster locations, and at the Stroh Center Box Office.

Proceeds from the event will benefit The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative, a partnership between Hamilton, who is a cancer survivor, and the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute where he was treated. CARES was created to promote cancer awareness and has raised millions of dollars for cancer research since its inception in 1999.

One of the most recognizable names in international figure skating, Scott Hamilton learned to skate at the BGSU Ice Arena. He returns to his hometown after serving as NBC’s lead figure skating analyst for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Skate for Hope utilizes figure skating, a sport that epitomizes women’s strength, to bring attention, resources, education and awareness to fight against breast cancer. Each year, Skate for Hope presents a spectacular production that celebrates the strength, courage and journey of all cancer survivors.

Skate for Hope’s mission is to:

  • Empower children and young adults to better cope with a friend or family member’s cancer diagnosis
  • Raise funding for clinical breast cancer research
  • Provide breast cancer education and awareness
  • Honor community cancer survivors

In addition to the two celebrity emcees, Scott Hamilton and Sarah Hughes, elite figure skaters headlining the show include:

  • Felicia Zhang & Nathan Bartholomay, 2014 Olympians, U.S. silver medalists
  • Max Aaron, 2013 U.S. champion, reigning U.S. bronze medalist
  • Rachael Flatt, 2010 Olympian, 2010 U.S. champion
  • Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, 2013 Canadian silver medalists
  • Caitlin Yankowskas & Hamish Gaman, 2014 British bronze medalists
  • Emily Samuelson, 2010 Olympian with former partner Evan Bates
  • Emily Hughes, 2006 Olympian, two-time U.S. silver medalist
  • Dan Hollander, World Professional champion

Please visit for complete information.

Questions – Please contact Carolyn Bongirno at 614.531.9499 or 

SKATING magazine – April Issue

8 Apr

Click on the cover below to view the April SKATING magazine.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 314 other followers