Thursday, 28 February 2013

2001 Interviews With Annie Bellemare


Back in the good old days of Tripod and Geocities, I briefly attempted hosting a website called Intensity On Ice which included a database of professional competition results, music and a few
great interviews with skaters active during that period. Below I have shared two of these 'lost' interviews with Canadian figure skating medallist Annie Bellemare!

INTERVIEW ONE

Q: Do you feel the pressure to make the world or Olympic team more now that you skated so strongly at Four Continents and Worlds? 

A: Not really. For sure I want to do well, and I want to make the world and Olympic team but its another goal, and I will do everything to make it happen. However, I know it's going to be tough because it's a lot of people's dream and goal and there only one spot.

Q: Describe your new programs to us. 

A: My short is "The Piano". I finally felt ready to skate to that music... it's a soft program. I really like it. My long is classical music but happier (I feel like its more me than last year because I think I'm an happy person). I really like both programs a lot and feel really comfortable doing them. For exhibition, I did not do it yet, so I guess it will be a surprise.

Q: How was your summer training? 

A: It was good: no injuries, lots of good training on and off ice. I worked a lot on the new programs and on triple Sal/triple loop (new combination actually in the long (not perfect yet but coming along pretty well). I also worked a lot on my layback so hopefully it's going to be better.

Q: What are your goals for the Grand Prix? 

A: Top five in both would be great... but my biggest goal is to skate real well in both competitions. I really want to become more consistent.



INTERVIEW TWO

Q: How did you feel about your performances and your spot qualifying for your first World Championships, held in your home country? 

A: I was really happy of my performances at Four Continents. I had great practices all week and felt really good. My short program was one of the best ones I ever did in competition and I was thrilled to do it clean (it's actually a great confidence booster for Worlds ). My long was so-so, but it was still the best of this year, and the fact that I tried everything and did not quit made me really happy. As for Worlds, I was really glad to make the team, for me it means so much. It's one dream that is coming true, and it could not feel better, especially since its in Canada.

Q: What is your game plan for Worlds? 

A: Well, right now, just to train hard; do more runthroughs (especially the long). With the foot injury it was hard to do a lot before Canadians, and now that I have more time I feel like I can be even more ready. Maybe also to work on a triple/triple or triple axel, but not to add in the programs; just to show it in practice but only if I have time.

Q: How is training coming? 

A: Training is going well. I'm training as hard as I can and taking one day at a time to be as ready as I can be.

Q: What are your goals for Four Continents (and tentatively, Worlds)? 

A: Four Continents : Have two good programs and get to go to Worlds, a top 10 finish at Worlds : Have a good skate and get top 15 and maybe top 10.

Q: What was/is your favorite program and why? 

A: I would say that I loved all my programs a lot, but I think one of my favourite one was "The Man In The Iron Mask". It just felt good and I guess it always brings me back to that first Canadian medal.

Q. Who are your skating idols? 

A: Kurt Browning for the skater he is... I think the best in the world. Elvis Stojko for his endurance and perseverance. I think he is one of the toughest out there!

Q: Tell me about your daily training, coaches, choreographers etc.? 

A: I train from about 11 am until 3 pm (sometimes more, sometimes less). I have about 45 minute lesson time with my coach (Stephane Yvars) every day and I work with Majoly off and on ice on my movements and feeling with the music. To do my programs, I go to Toronto off and on to work with Marijane Stong.

Q: What do you/don't you like about being a celebrity? 

A: Well , I don't think I'm a celebrity. Not yet... so I can't really tell you what I like or don't like.

Q: If you could skate to any one piece of music, what would it be? 

A: I think I always skate to music I like, but there is one I actually never skated to and I really like: the "Piano" soundtrack. It's really good. Maybe one day. Maybe a song from Tori Amos would be good.

Q: How long do you plan to compete as an amateur? Would you like to compete or skate professionally? 

A: I can't plan the future but if everything goes fine I would say until 2006 amateur, and maybe a couple of years professionally.

Q: Tell me about your day to day life, hobbies and friends.

A: I usually skate most of the time, and when I don't skate I work in a figure skating shop: it's actually my mom's figure skating boutique... and when I have some time off , I go out with my friends see a movie, have a good meal, or read a book alone.

Q: What's your favourite skating element? 

A: I really like skating around with every song that I like that makes me remember why I skate. I also like trying new jumps - it gets me really excited... but I think one of my favourite jumps is the triple lutz. I just love the feeling of nailing a great one...

Q: Any advice to your fans? 

A: Stay yourself, be who you are, do what you want to do, and have fun... I think if you do this, you will go through life a lot more easily.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

6.0: 6 Fabulous Skaters That You May Not Know About But Should

When it comes to good skating, there's a lot of it out there. Today's casual skating fan may only know the names like Patrick Chan and Joannie Rochette, but there are so many brilliant and unique skaters that have touched the sport over the year that you may not know about. They may not have won an Olympic medal, but they certainly have something damn fabulous going on!

SANDRA GARDE


I first discovered this wonderfully musical skater in 1995, in watching a grainy video of the 1995 Miko Masters competition held annually in France. She was skating to "Night On Bald Mountain" in a diabolical red bodysuit and had this enigmatic quality about her I couldn't quite put my finger on. Sandra finished as high as 4th at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships but never had great success internationally. Her artistic skills, however, were a cut above her jumping prowess and this really helped her blossom as a professional, where she won the Trophee Lalique professional competition in the mid 90's and toured extensively with Disney On Ice. It's a shame there isn't more video of her available on the YouTube because she has something really special going on.

DOUG MATTIS


A wonderfully creative skater with stage presence plus, Doug Mattis was a skater that really came into his own as a professional. I remember watching him skate (yet another program you can't find on the YouTube) to a medley of "Nightmare" by Brainbug and Depeche Mode at the 1997 U,S. Open and being just floored by his talent and the way he projected to the audience. Now a wonderful ambassador to the sport, he is heavily involved in the YAS project I mentioned in my first post and he's one bitchin guy!

SUSANNA RAHKAMO AND PETRI KOKKO


How these two never won an Olympic medal is beyond me. Two of the most outrageously creative and immensely talented ice dancers I've ever seen! They have interpreted pretty much every musical genre and type of dance out there with applomb and their original dance during the 1994/1995 season to "Borsalino" remains one of the best quicksteps the sport has seen. Their professional career included success in professional competition and even this Enigma music video. In short, totally underrated.

RORY FLACK


She's related to Roberta Flack, she lives in the state where you can see Russia from your house and she's one genius of a figure skater. She joins the ranks of Surya Bonaly, Lori Benton and Ashley Clark - a select few ladies skaters who perform the backflip and went from virtual anonymity to make a name for herself as a professional and dazzle audiences worldwide. Rory is a fine example of the underdog who made it and she has talent galore.

ANITA HARTSHORN AND FRANK SWEIDING


My favourite pairs team of all time! Need I say more? Working with the genius choreographer, the late Brian Wright, Anita and Frank created a whole portfolio of crowd pleasing and truly innovative programs. Always theatrical and thoroughly entertaining, if you haven't discovered Anita and Frank yet, you need to get on that girl.

MATT SAVOIE


If you could wave a magic wand and want to skate like any men's skater, it would be Matt Savoie. From the jumps to the spins to the nuances and edges, if anyone "wuzrobbed" in their skating career, it was this brilliant skater. A true shining light in his generation of skating!

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html

The BIG Introduction

After months of procrastinating, I'm finally done doing it: sharing my unique perspective on the world of figure skating in blog form. What qualifies me to do this you ask? Well, for starters, I do enjoy a good bit of fun and I drink a little (which always livens things up). I have been following figure skating religiously since 1994, when the "whack heard around the world" brought the sport into the collective consciousness of people everywhere just in time for the Lillehammer Olympics.

Long before the internet was a 'big thing', I armed myself with a VCR and an immense love for the sport and absorbed as much skating as I possibly could. Fortunately, this came at a time when skating was at it's ultimate heyday. On a Saturday afternoon, you could count on a Grand Prix event on one channel, a professional competition on another and a cheesy made for TV special on a third channel. I never complained!

Somewhere in the middle of all this I started skating myself. I never quite achieved amazing success but I achieved the goals I wanted to as a skater starting way after most people do (I started skating in my teens). I won a handful of gold medals at local competitions and even took home the gold in Artistic skating at Nova Scotia Provincials in 2000. I also got certified as a skating judge with CFSA (now Skate Canada) and judged at many competitions here in Nova Scotia while I was still competing.

After moving on to other adventures in dance, writing, drag performance, spirituality and real life shortly thereafter, I no longer skate but I still have SO much intense passion for a sport that has given me hours upon hours (I don't even wanna count!) of enjoyment.

If you're looking for a blog analyzing skater's CoP, PCS, personal bests and personal blursts, you've come to the wrong place. I'm a firm believer that the new scoring system that came into play after the final judging scandal that broke the ISU's back in 2002 has sucked the creativity and originality out of the sport. That's not to say today's skaters aren't immensely talented, they are just having to serve cookie cutter realness and it's a damn shame. Sorry.

I'm a strong advocate of professional skating and am thrilled to see projects like YAS (Young Artists Showcase) going on that are encouraging a new generation of skaters to be original, interpret music and choreograph and construct brilliantly crafted pieces. If you look at some of the skaters and choreographers that have been involved in this, it's just incredible. Garrett Kling and Kate McSwain are two names that come to mind among many. That said, professional skating competitions and shows and NEED to make a comeback and this generation of skaters need to be educated about the Robin Cousins', John Curry's, Torvill and Dean's, Toller Cranston's, Duchesnay's and Janet Lynn's of the sport (I could name a million more... AND WILL).

At any rate, I hope you enjoy some of the postings I'll be making. I plan on talking about artistry, professional skating competitions, doing some interviews with skaters and members of the skating community and of course Brian Joubert's butt... because you know... it would be rude not to. You could eat off that. You really could girl.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.