When I was a teenager growing up I would spend 5 days a week at school, 3-4 days a week on the ice and every spare moment I had watching skating. It was the 90's, so you'd have to be selective about what you'd watch. On a Saturday around 4 PM (for instance) there would often be 3-4 figure skating competitions or events being televised at the same time. That's where the good old trusty VHS came in. You'd watch one and tape the other(s). I remember doing the same thing at both of my grandmothers houses. I was extremely close to not only my parents but my grandmothers as well. I'd sit in my Nanny Jean's den and watch skating with her and remember us both shaking our heads watching Surya Bonaly rip off her silver medal at the 1994 World Championships. My Nanny Joyce would take me to the library in Dartmouth and I'd take out any skating video or book I could get my hands on. I had boxes and boxes of VHS tapes of skating (I still have a box in my storage room even today) and I couldn't get enough of watching entertainers that moved me. SHOCKINGLY (I know), I loved professional skating way more than "amateur" skating and I remember one VHS tape I would have rented that really kickstarted my love of professional skating in particular.
World Champion Linda Fratianne skating to "The Last Man In My Life"
It was a compilation video of some of the best performances from the Landover World Professional Championships up to 1987. Keeping in mind that my first introduction to skaters like Katarina Witt, Gordeeva and Grinkov and Brian Boitano would have been in 1994, I was really just getting introduced to skaters whose skating I'd have a lifelong love affair with. On that video were Dorothy Hamill, Torvill and Dean, Robin Cousins (who I LOVED!), John Curry, The Protopopov's, Scott Hamilton... Probably Tai and Randy? I honestly don't remember. One of my favourites on that entire video was Linda Fratianne skating to "The Last Man In My Life". I watched and rewatched all of the performances over and over again and only now do I realize that generationally, I was pretty lucky. I could watch skating at its artistic and creative height in the 1990's live and get to know a whole era of AMAZING skaters through books and videos. I remember watching an instructional "learn to skate" video with Tai and Randy and just falling in love with them. Videos and books about John Curry introduced me to some of the most stunning skating I've seen to this day. A video produced by either the ISU or the CFSA (I forget?) really introduced me to the figures that were being phased out as I started and I was so amazed the last figures that were skated at a World Championships were right in my home province.
Olympic Gold Medallist John Curry skating to "La Valse"
So much has changed in the last couple decades and one of the greatest positives in this respect is YOUTUBE! The fact that all of this wonderful skating is now available to today's skaters and fans at a single click is honestly really amazing. It's allowed me (and others) to learn about and from skaters that were before my time. We have John Curry, Janet Lynn, Robin Cousins, Toller Cranston, Katarina Witt and Torvill and Dean right at our fingertips. If there's one thing we can be thankful for in this age of technology... it's that great skating is available to us 24/7, with a single click. Add a day of revisiting the great skaters of eras past to your bucket list. I guarantee that you'll end the day with a smile on your face.
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