Brian Boitano

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Brian Boitano bigraphy, stories - United States figure skater

Brian Boitano : biography

22 October 1963 –

Brian Anthony Boitano (born October 22, 1963) is an American figure skater from Sunnyvale, California. He is the 1988 Olympic champion, the 1986 and 1988 World Champion, and the 1985-1988 U.S. National Champion. He turned professional following the 1988 season. He returned to competition in 1993 and competed at the 1994 Winter Olympics, where he placed sixth.

Personal life

Brian Boitano was born in Mountain View, California, and now lives in San Francisco. Boitano is a graduate of Marian A. Peterson High School in Sunnyvale, California., accessed September 6, 2006.

Figure skating career

Early career

Brian Boitano first made his mark on the international scene when he won the bronze medal at the 1978 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, beating future rival Brian Orser for that medal.

In 1982 Boitano became the first American to land a triple axel. In 1987 he introduced his signature jump, the ‘Tano triple lutz’ in which the skater raises his left arm above his head. He attempted a quadruple jump throughout the 1986-87 season and at the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships, but did not cleanly land the jump; he double-footed the landing on two occasions.

Boitano was known primarily as a jumper early in his career and he, along with several other skaters, helped push the technical envelope of men’s skating. It was not until his failure to defend his World title in 1987 that he focused specifically on improving his artistry.

Boitano placed second at the 1984 United States Figure Skating Championships, earning himself a trip to the 1984 Winter Olympics. He placed 5th at the Olympics, setting the stage for his success over the next four years.

World Champion

Following the 1984 Olympics, several skaters emerged as likely medal hopes following the retirement of Scott Hamilton.

Boitano won the 1985 United States Figure Skating Championships, the first of his four titles. At the first World Championships of the post-Hamilton era in 1985, Alexander Fadeev won, with Brian Orser finishing 2nd and Boitano 3rd. He had injured tendons in his right ankle a few weeks before the 1986 U.S. Championships but went on to win his second national title. At the 1986 World Championships, Boitano took the title, while Fadeev had a disastrous free skate despite having been in an excellent position to win; Orser finished 2nd once again.

During the 1986-87 season, Boitano had introduced two new elements to his programs: the ‘Tano triple lutz and a quadruple toe loop, although he never succeeded in landing a clean quadruple jump in competition. The 1987 World Championships were held in Cincinnati, giving defending World champion Boitano a home-field advantage. The outcome of the event would set the tone for the 1988 Olympics. At Worlds, Boitano fell on his quadruple toe loop attempt and placed second.

After losing the world title to Orser at home, Boitano and his coach Linda Leaver decided that some changes needed to be made if Boitano was to become the Olympic champion. Boitano had always been good at the technical requirements ("The first mark"), but he was weak on the artistic ("the second mark"). He was a self-described "jumping robot." In order to help his growth as an artist, he hired choreographer Sandra Bezic to choreograph his programs for the 1987-1988 Olympic season.

Bezic choreographed two programs that featured clean lines and accentuated the skating abilities of the 5′ 11" Boitano. The short program was based on Giacomo Meyerbeer’s ballet Les Patineurs in which Boitano plays a cocky young man showing off his tricks, using movements dating back to the 19th century. In one famous moment, Boitano wipes ice shavings, also called snow, off his skate blade and tosses it over his shoulder after landing a triple axel combination. The free skating program was based on the film score, Napoleon, detailing various phases of a soldier’s life.

Boitano debuted his new programs at 1987 Skate Canada, held in the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the same venue in which he would compete against Brian Orser for the Olympic title three months later. Boitano’s new programs were received with standing ovations by the audience. Although Orser won the competition, Boitano skated clean, landing seven triple jumps, including a footwork section into a jump. Boitano, Leaver, and Bezic were so confident about the strength of Boitano’s new programs that they omitted the quadruple toe loop, which if landed, could have put him a shoulder above Orser in technical merit.