Memorable Programs in Figure Skating (Pairs)

1988 Olympics:

Soviet skaters Ekaterina Gordeeva (just 16; nicknamed Katya) and partner Sergei Grinkov (21) are already World Champions known for their speed, split triple twist (she goes up VERY high), and Katya’s presence on the ice.  But they are still growing and learning (as we see in the profile below). 

Short Program (SP): It went pretty well, but wasn’t perfect.  We can see that Katya and Sergei wanted it to be better (ever the technicians).

Long Program (LP): They skated with such ease, kept up the speed, and had a flawless program!  Katya (looking like a young Natalie Portman) clearly enjoys being on the ice. 

1988 Worlds:

Isabelle Brasseur & Lloyd Eisler (CAN) were my favorite Pairs team growing up!  I loved their wonderful lifts and fast spins, which rivaled the dominant Soviet teams.  The confident/tall/English-speaking Lloyd (who was 7 years older) had skated w/ several different partner earlier, but shy/petite/French-speaking Isabelle was the match for him on ice.  They continued to work on their style over the years, in order to be compete with the best European teams.  They were Canda’s darlings, and U.S. audiences liked the excitement and sense of fun in their programs (esp. in exhibitions).     

SP: The music is great!  Isabelle is only 17; Lloyd is 24.

LP: At 1:50 mark, Lloyd lifts Isabelle with one arm- WOW!  They put in a good showing here.

1991 Worlds:

Brasseur & Eisler’s SP: Josee Picard. their coach, tells the story of how this pair got together.  Then, we have the peppy, fun-filled program which suits them quite well.  Their double twist is one of the BEST you’ll ever see!   

B&E’s LP:  They go for the gold here, but reach silver, though their program is quite impressive.  At 1:40, Lloyd lifts Isabelle up, then over his head.  The one-armed press star lift (one of their signature moves) is at 3:20; this displays Lloyd’s strength and Isabelle’s fearlessness. 

1992 Olympics:

Profile of B&E:

Mishkutenok & Dmitriev’s SP: Artur is one of the most strongest and dramatic (expressive) male pair’s skaters.  Natalia has incredible flexibility.  The costumes are to die for!  The spin they invented is at 2:55.

M&D’s LP: The Soviet Union has been broken up, but these skaters win the gold with their lyrical program. 

1994 Olympics:

There was a showdown between the Russians- G&G (now married w/ a little girl; back from pro skating) and the dramatic duo of M&D.  B&E did their best on the world stage up to that point; Isabelle had cracked ribs (so had them bandaged up tight before competing). 

G&G profile & SP: Their life was like a fairy tale (at that time).

M&D’s SP: Artur collapsed on the ice after finishing- the pair really put a lot of passion into this program.

B&E’s SP: They didn’t get as high as I’d hope on technical marks.  Isabelle showed so much spirit here, but then was calm/collected when the marks came. 

B&E’s LP: The Canadians did their nation proud with their flawless program; long-time fans could see that Lloyd had worked on his artistry. I loved the music and costumes they chose. 

M&D’s LP: It was very creative and passionate, but not quite enough for gold.  My dad and I preferred their style over G&G, though both teams were great. 

G&G’s LP: It wasn’t flawless, but the judges gave the gold to this superb pair.  My mom liked this team best.  This was one of the BEST competitions! 

Meryl Davis & Charlie White: Ready for gold!

UPDATE, 12/17:  David & White won the gold in ice dance- a first for the US!  It was a TERRIFIC free dance competition, w/ many couples skating at their best (including the Shibutanis, Chock & Bates, & the younger Russians)!  The sport has come a LONG way since the days of block judging.  YAY!!! 

Ice dancing gold is for Russians, right?  Not anymore!  In 2010, Meryl Davis (age 27) and Charlie White (age 26) won Olympic silver.  They are also both attend the University of Michigan part-time.  Davis & White won gold at the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships (the first for the U.S. in ice dance)  This team keeps getting better and better- I fell IN LOVE with them (again) watching their current programs!  

One of our strengths is that we never set a ceiling for ourselves.  -Charlie White

Short Dance (SD): In the past, there were 2 compulsory dances (CDs) & an original dance (OD), but now these have been combined into the Short Dance.  (Long-time ice dance fans have seen MANY changes and drama over the years!)  The CDs were purely to show the team’s technical abilities on the ice; they were routine and often seemed boring and unnecessary. 

Meryl brings to mind the great Russian female ice dancers of a bygone time- petite frame, light footing, posture, and unusually-colored dark red hair.  (I think that color is an homage to Marina Anissina, the Russian ice dancer who skater for France just a few years ago.)  Their coach, Marina Zoueva, hails from the former Soviet Union.  Charlie, on the other hand, is strong, energetic, and fun (showing his American-ness, but also bringing to mind French ice dancer Gwendal Peizerat, Anissina’s long-time partner).  Their success isn’t magic- they’ve been partnered for 16 years! 

Free Dance (FD): The free dance is where teams get to show all their stuff (artistic, technical); they better bring it (since technical elements like spins and lifts are a major part of ice dance now).  I love these elements, but not when they don’t fit with the choreography.  As the late Dick Button said of this sport: “Two shall dance as one.”   

Behind-the-scenes look at Davis & White’s rise:   

Olympic ice dancers’ moms ‘bring a little bit of home’ to Sochi (TODAY segment)

Michigan ice dancers Meryl Davis, Charlie White make perfect pair (Detroit Free Press)

Ranya Tabari Idilby: A secular Muslim-American mom

Ranya Tabari Idilby is a 1st gen Palestinian-American woman who breaks down stereotypes many Americans have about Muslims.  She considers herself a typical American and concerned mother, who is raising 2 kids in NYC with her husband.  Ranya’s father was an engineer; he met her mother b/c his company was building a road near her house (no arranged marriage).  Ranya immigrated as a young girl to McLean, VA (Fairfax County).  She became a naturalized citizen at age 21.  None of the women in her family has ever worn a headscarf (not that there’s anything wrong w/ that).  She co-authored The Faith Club with two of her Christian and Jewish friends/neighbors/fellow moms. 

Ranya Tabari Idilby on HuffPost Live
Ranya Tabari Idilby on HuffPost Live

Values are something that are values of action.

HuffPost Interview:  Her kids, 9/11 anniversary, & interfaith marriage

Before 9/11, I was an accidental Muslim. 

WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show interview (1/15/14)

Idilby's new book cover
Idilby’s new book cover

Diversity is a natural development within the faith.

Discussion of her new memoir Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie & more: CSPAN: After Words (interviewed by Daisy Khan (12/4/13)