Brian Boitano

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Brian Boitano : biography

22 October 1963 –

The short program at the 1988 United States Figure Skating Championships proved to be a highlight. Boitano received marks of 6.0 from eight of the nine judges for presentation, the second mark. His free skate was flawed. Due to delays, he did not skate until after midnight. Still, Boitano won the competition, and went into the Olympics as the national champion (U.S.), as did Orser (Canadian).

1988 Olympics: Battle of the Brians

Going into the Olympics, Boitano and Brian Orser each had won a World title and each had excellent, balanced repertoire, with Boitano being known as the slightly better technician and Orser as the better artist. Adding to the rivalry, Boitano and Orser were both performing military-themed programs. Boitano’s was to the music of Napoleon.

The Battle of the Brians at the 1988 Winter Olympics was the highlight of Boitano’s amateur career. Boitano and Orser were effectively tied going into the free skating portion of the event and whoever won that portion would win the event. Alexander Fadeev had won the compulsory figures section of the competition with Boitano second and Orser third. In the short program, Orser placed first and Boitano second. The free skating was, at the time, worth 50% of the score, and so Boitano’s lead would not be enough to hold him in first place if he lost the free skate.

Boitano skated a clean, technically excellent long program, with eight triple jumps, two Axels, and a triple-triple combination. Orser made one small mistake on a jump and omitted his planned second triple axel. Boitano won the Battle in a 5-4 split. Boitano won the gold medal, wearing skates with American flag appliqués that are now part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Following the Olympics, both Orser and Boitano went to the World Championships, which Boitano won. Boitano turned professional soon after.

Professional and return to amateur

Following the Olympics, Boitano went on to dominate competitions in the professional ranks, winning 10 straight professional competitions, including 5 consecutive World Professional Championship titles and 4 consecutive wins at the Challenge of Champions. Boitano also appeared in Carmen on Ice, for which he won an Emmy. However, Boitano wanted to return to amateur competition and make another run at the Olympics.

Boitano’s lobby proved successful and in June 1993, the International Skating Union (ISU) introduced a clause, commonly known as the "Boitano rule," which allowed professionals to reinstate as "amateur" or "eligible" skaters. This had been the result of Boitano’s active involvement during the early 1990s, which saw professionals being allowed in the Olympic Games in the sports of tennis and basketball. Boitano reinstated as an amateur to compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

Boitano competed at the 1994 United States Figure Skating Championships, led after the short program, but lost to Scott Davis in the long program in a 6-3 split decision. Boitano was named to the Olympic team. Going into the Olympics as a medal favorite in a strong field, Boitano missed his triple axel combination during the short program for the first time in his career. This mistake proved extremely costly, and knocked Boitano out of medal contention. He skated a good long program and finished 6th.

Boitano returned to the professional ranks afterwards. He was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1996.

Results

Event 1977–78 1978–79 1979–80 1980–81 1981–82 1982–83 1983–84 1984–85 1985–86 1986–87 1987–88 1993–94
Winter Olympics 5th 1st 6th
World Championships 7th 6th 3rd 1st 2nd 1st
World Junior Championships 3rd
U.S. Championships 4th 2nd 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 2nd
Skate America 3rd 1st 2nd 1st 2nd
Skate Canada International 1st 2nd
NHK Trophy 3rd 1st
Nebelhorn Trophy 3rd
Coupe des Alpes 3rd