Interview With Lisa-Marie Allen

In the late seventies and early eighties, if you had any knowledge of figure skating you absolutely knew the name Lisa-Marie Allen. A four time senior ladies medallist at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Lisa-Marie actually defeated eventual Olympic Medallist Linda Fratianne in the combined short program and free skate scores at the 1980 U.S. Nationals to earn her spot on the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic team, where she finished fifth. Retiring from "amateur" competition following the 1981 U.S. Championships, she went on to a highly successful professional career that saw her star in the Ice Capades, win the 1990 World Professional Championships in Jaca, Spain and the 1997 American Open professional title and act as co-founder of the City Of Angels Ice Theater. Now a coach and technical specialist based out of beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho, Lisa-Marie took the time from her busy schedule to talk about both her "amateur" and professional careers, working with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder on Blades Of Glory, motherhood and much more in this fantastic interview you're bound to love!

Q: You represented the U.S. at the Winter Olympics in 1980 and at three World Championships. During your eligible career, you also won four medals at the U.S. National Championships and won international events like Skate America, Skate Canada and the Nebelhorn Trophy. Looking back, what were the most special and the most difficult moments of your eligible career? 

A: In a nutshell, the best of times...winning junior ladies in 1975 (I had only been skating since October of 1969) and making the Olympic team in 1980... the the not so best would be being denied the U.S. National title in 1978 in Portland and competing in 1981 with a sprained ankle. I had hoped to win the title without Linda Fratianne skating that year.

Q: When you turned professional, you toured with Ice Capades and also competed professionally, winning both the American Open and World Professional titles and participating in many other events. What do you think the sport is missing now that the lines have been blurred between eligible and pro skating?

A: The sport has certainly changed in both ways. We see amazing accomplishments happening every year but before 1984, we truly were amateurs and had to "find our way" without the hype from media and corporations that wanted a piece of the action upon our success.

Q: Do you think the new judging system and the elimination of compulsory figures as helped or hurt the sport? 

A: In my role as a technical panel specialist, I have tried to see the fair and positive change to the sport. At times, my hopes have not been fulfilled. Without a doubt, we need figures back in the structure but it will never happen. It takes too much time and we as modern day humans don't have the patience.

Q: What are your memories of the 1990 World Professional Championships in Jaca, Spain? 

A: I went to Jaca three times and the last trip (when I won), the Mayor of Jaca welcomed me "home". That was amazing! I think I skated to Roy Orbison's "Crazy" but can't quite recall. I also learned a few Spanish things to say to the audience.

Q: What do you devote most of your time to now that you aren't performing regularly?

A: Hiking with my dogs!

Q: When was the last time you were on the ice?

A: Yesterday! I still skate a few days a week. The last time I performed was in the 2012 Battle of the Blades here in Sun Valley. I was the front end of Herman Maricich's bull in a tribute to him.

Q: You skated to "Song Instead Of A Kiss" by Alannah Myles during your professional career. I love that song! What are your favourite pieces of music you have skated to? 

A: I love too many to pick just one. In my skating, I just tried to choose songs that were interesting and challenging to choreograph. They may not have been totally crowd pleasing, but I enjoyed the work.

Q: What's one thing about you most people don't know? 

A: Most people don't know that I am one of five children - the only girl and the youngest.

Q: Who are your three favourite skaters and why? 

A: I started skating because of Peggy Fleming, Charlie Tickner is one of my best friends and Michelle Kwan is truly a rock star!

Q: You choreographed for both the movie Blades Of Glory and the Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies! What do you enjoy most about choreography and are you still involved in coaching and choreography today? 

A: I am truly grateful to have had the experiences that skating has brought to me. Working on the Opening Ceremonies was a great learning lesson of life. The stress and pressure to produce something of that magnitude for live TV was unbelievable. I had daily bouts of tears just to release the stress and carry on with focus. On the Blades Of Glory film, the chance to bring skating to a completely different demographic was a blast. The time spent with Will Farrell, Amy Poehler, Jon Heder and Will Arnett was fantastic. They were all troupers as far as what they were willing to attempt. I still teach a bit and choreograph for my students.

Q: What is the biggest life lesson you have learned through motherhood? 

A: To embrace the chance to love and nurture another human being.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":