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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


It's the night before I leave for Vancouver and I have just finished getting a massage and watching American Idol. Rachael and I are very excited and we have been talking about all of the different aspects of sharing this adventure each day this week. Her parents, Jody and Jim, sent my wife, Susan, a beautiful arrangement of flowers thanking her for her patience all these years.

Incidentally, packing for the Olympics is easier than you might think. First of all, we have been told we will get a lot of gear and we will even get a suitcase to pack it all in. Since I am fairly sure I will be wearing all my gear once I get there, I have decided that I do not need to bring that much with me. I may even sleep in some of it! Secondly, Rachael and I are going only for 4 nights before we head back to Colorado Springs. The real packing will come when we return for the second time and I will have to pack more formal clothes.

The subject of today's blog is the answer to the question of the day from yesterday. Ikkos of Tarentum is the first recorded Olympic coach in ancient Greece. Ikkos won the pentathlon at the 84th Olympiad in 444 B.C. and later became known for his coaching ability as he led two fellow Tarentine athletes to gold in the same event. Pretty cool, eh!

So, to all my colleagues out there...this blog is for you. I also want to recognize all the figure skating coaches who have taught me everything I ever learned about figure skating. I have seen and/or stayed in touch with many of them through the years and it is very rewarding. If this blog inspires you to contact one of your former coaches, go for it! They would love to hear from you. Here are mine:

Betty Bosell -Miss Betty was my first learn to skate teacher at the Dan Kostel Recreation Center in Garfield Heights where I began to skate and she shared her love of skating with me. She also chose me to be the gingerbread boy for my first solo in the annual ice show.

Phil Racine-Phil was my first official coach. He meant everything to me and when he left to coach in Canada after five years under his wing, I was crushed. He took me to my first competition in Lansing, MI, taught me my axel, all my doubles and my triple salchow. I still keep in touch with him to this day. Hi, Phil!

I tried several coaches after Phil. I guess I had a hard time finding the right fit. I learned many things from all of them. He are just a few tidbits:

Ginny Luttenton-She taught me how to close my mohawk on the swing dance and that failing your first figure test isn't so bad.
Dick Rimmer-He turned me onto the history of our sport by showing me videos of past champions and introduced me to Sam Hill.
Johnny Johns-He toughened me up when I was 16 and had moved away from home for the first time to train in Detroit.
Terry Viviani-He taught me the art of laying out figures in competition.
Sherry Kilmer Marvin-She taught me how to actually do clean rockers and counters as well as how to hit the top of a jump.
David and Rita Lowery-They both got me interested in music and costuming and presenting a package to the judges. I also slept on the bunk beds in their laundry room. Boy, if that doesn't make you homesick!
Nina Stark Slapnik-She taught me the mental aspect of performing and how to get into a zone in order to compete.

Finally, there was Norma Sahlin. She and her husband, Wally, were a huge influence in my life. When I was a young skater, I idolized Charlie Tickner. I thought he was both graceful and masculine when he skated and not only could he could do a huge triple lutz, but he could also do a death spiral without a partner! Naturally, I wanted to take lessons from his coach. That is how I found Norma. Anyone who knows Norma knows what a great teacher she was. She prided herself on teaching the average skaters how to do clean double axels. She taught me how to be consistent, how to train properly, how to control my mind and my emotions. There are so many times in my coaching that I am reminded of things she said that are true even in this day and age. She is one of the reasons that I went back to school to get my master's degree. She was a life-long learner. Not too long before she died I asked her if I would ever reach my goal of coaching at the Olympic Games. She said without hesitation, "Of course you will, Tom." She was right about so many things over the course of the seven years that she guided my skating. And she was right about that, too.

Question of the Day: Do coaches receive medals at the Olympic Games if there athletes win medals?


  1. I am enjoying your blog SO much! Thank you for taking the time to allow us in to your part of the Olympic experience!

  2. Norma would be so proud of you! I am sure she is smiling down on you right now:)

  3. Thanks, Ann. Great to hear from you. Perhaps I will see you in Italy!

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