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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nine Nights of Glory



Universal Sports is showing a documentary tonight, "Nine Nights of Glory," with footage from the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. I happened to catch the portion about the "Battle of the Brians": the hotly contested men's figure skating competition that ended with Boitano (USA) defeating Orser (Canada) with the slimmest margin imaginable (5-to-4 split by the judging panel). Both men as well as their coaches (Linda Leaver and Doug Leigh) were interviewed extensively about their experiences.

Boitano's and Brian Orser's 1988 Olympics free skates can be found on YouTube. People today are still fighting about who should have won. The reality of figure skating is, sometimes it's just too close to call.

Also making brief appearances on film were Viktor Petrenko (USSR), the bronze medalist, and Christopher Bowman, the No. 2 US competitor.

They looked so young! It's hard to believe that was 23 years ago. Boitano went on to have a successful professional career and is still actively involved in figure skating. He also has a TV cooking show now: What Would Brian Boitano Make. Orser also had a fair professional skating career and started coaching a few years ago. In 2010, his Olympic dream was fulfilled by his student Yuna Kim, who won the Olympic gold medal in women's competition. Coincidentally, the Olympics were again held in Canada (Vancouver). The coach and protege have since gone through an ugly "divorce," but Orser has made a boatload of money in Korean advertisements (Kim is the biggest star in Korea) and a promising coaching career.

Nowadays Viktor Petrenko is coaching in Simsbury, Connecticut with his wife Nina and his mother-in-law Galina Zmievskaya who had coached him, and works as a technical specialist for the ISU.

Always a wild child, Christopher Bowman had a turbulent career and life. He died of a drug overdose in 2008. He was 40 years old.

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3 more weeks!

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