Rachael and Tom learning how to curl. With Figure Skating Team Leader Lorrie Parker at practice.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Hello PSA coaches! In less than one week I will be on my way with my athlete Rachael Flatt to coach at my first Olympic Games. In Spokane, I met with PSA Executive Director Jimmie Santee and PSA President Kelly Morris Adair to suggest writing a blog about what it's like to be a first-time coach at the Olympics. I thought it would be a great way for me to give back to the organization and its members that have helped me get to this point in my career. There are lots of restrictions to blogging while in Vancouver. For example, I cannot use the words "Olympic" or "Olympic Games" in the title, publish any results before broadcast or publish moving video of any athletes competing in their venues. That said, I will do my best to give you firsthand knowledge about what it's like to coach at the ultimate of competitions.

Since Nationals, Rachael and I got back to work almost immediately as there were less than 4 weeks to the Games. Obviously, we are working on everything that we felt needed improvement. We know there is somewhat of a difference in scoring at every country's national championships compared with the ISU level and we want to be ready for the ultimate test of quality. Lori Nichol came out to Colorado Springs for a few days of touch up on both programs. It seems like the main push right now ties in with the Olympic motto: (Swifter) Faster, Higher, Stronger or Citius, Altius, Fortius, if you prefer the Latin.

In each blog, I will ask a question of the day related to Olympic trivia. The answer will be in the next day's blog. Question of the Day: What is the significance of the colors of all 5 Olympic rings?

Having reached this milestone in my coaching career after 21 years, I can tell you it feels very rewarding but at the same time there has been no time to celebrate. So I guess I would say that even though all the hard work (nearly 10 years with Rachael) has paid off, I realized very quickly that nothing has really changed. I am still doing the same job for Rachael and all of my other athletes: helping them achieve their goals as they continue along their figure skating journey.

One thing I will say about achieving this milestone is that I received numerous texts, voicemails and e-mails from friends in skating and grade school, high school and college that I haven't heard from in years. This support has been incredible and shows me that when you make an Olympic Team the biggest difference is that more people pay attention.

I feel so grateful to the PSA for providing me all of the educational opportunities that have helped me achieve my coaching goals. Through the years, the speakers at the conferences have proven to be a who's who of Olympians: Bonnie Blair, Brian Boitano (both won gold), Brian Orser, Peter Oppegard (both were medalists), Christy Krall, Ann Margaret Frei and Sonya Dunfield as well as Olympic coaches: Richard Callaghan, Bela Karolyi, Don Laws, Linda Leaver, Tamara Moskvina, Christy Ness, Robin Wagner (whose students all won gold), Frank Carroll, Doug Leigh, John Nicks (who have all coached medalists) Kathy Casey, Peter Dunfield and Audrey Weisiger to name a few. I can honestly say that I have learned many things from these great coaches and when the opening ceremonies begin on February 12, 2010, I will become a member of their club. I can't wait!


  1. Glad you are having such a great opportunity after so much success with so many skaters. I learned about this blog from a Figure Skater's Online tweet. Here is my first question, or something that I would like you to write about: How does a coach balance the intense Olympic media press conferences, interviews, the excitement of the Olympic Village and Opening Ceremonies, and other distractions with the need to keep an athlete focused, in top form, and relaxed?

  2. I believe there are 5 rings to represent the 5 continents, and each has a different color. I'm not sure, however, if each color is symbolic of a specific country. Does anyone know?

  3. The Olympic ring colors (including the White Background) symbolizes the colors of the flags of the countries that participate in the Olympic games. At least one of those colors is in the flags of the countries that play in the Olympic games.

  4. Hi Tom! Congratulations on your upcoming Olympic adventure! I've followed with great interest your coaching career since we toured together. I have lots of good memories of us from Disney on Ice and recall you had very high expectations of the chorus skaters. It always made me want to put out more with each performance. I'm now a coach at the University of Delaware and cannot think of a greater job than coaching skating. Thanks for consistently raising the bar for excellence in coaching!
    Good luck at the Games!
    Diana Conklin Lapierre

  5. Diana, great to hear from you. All the best in your coaching endeavors!

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