Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Fair is fair, we did a round up of memorable soap Christmases last week, how about the best of New Year's in Soap Land, today?

Guiding Light:

General Hospital:

As the World Turns:

The Young & the Restless:

Days of Our Lives:

One Life to Live:

Santa Barbara:

Another World:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Podcast: What's New in Soaps, Skating & Romance Novels for 2014 (Exclusive Sneak Peeks)!

Will 2014 be the year of:

* Interactive soap operas (what if, instead of just passively accepting the story, you could do something to affect where it's going?)

* Interactive Figure Skating Mysteries (don't just read about the skating, click a button and watch it while you read!)

* Interactive romance novels (how about some mood music to help set the scene? How about the same scene from multiple perspectives? How about being able to zip around in time and space? The choice is no longer the author's - it's yours!)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013


I chat with Neil Haley about my Figure Skating Mystery novels (originally published as paperback originals by Berkley Prime Crime), and how I turned them into enhanced ebooks with professional skating videos from The Ice Theatre of NY included as part of the story!

Listen below!

Listen To Education Internet Radio Stations with Total Tutor on BlogTalkRadio

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Earlier this week, in honor of Dick Button's new book, I featured an interview I'd done for my own book, Inside Figure Skating, about more or less all the behind-the-scenes dirt you wanted to know about professional skating - but didn't know whom to ask (read it, here).

Now comes more news from the skating and dance world.

Dick Button, along with with Dorothy Hamill, JoJo Starbuck and others will be part of a panel discussion on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Dance on Ice program.

Last year, Dance on Ice introduced the innovative work of the Ice Theatre of New York through a historical perspective, focusing on the development of ice dancing. This year, Olympian and U.S. National Pairs Champion JoJo Starbuck will look at the modern day movement of artistic ice ensembles, in particular the John Curry Ice Dancers, with excerpts from his ground-breaking spectaculars and TV specials such as “The Snow Queen” and including his amazing Fred Astaire routine. ITNY’s founder and director Moira North and artistic director Douglas Webster will then explore the company’s more recent collaborations, culminating in rehearsal footage and a recorded performance of “Reveries,” choreographed by ballet maestro Edward Villella.

As regular readers of this blog know, The Ice Theatre of NY provided the video for my enhanced Figure Skating Mystery series of books. When you click a link to watch the characters perform, you are really watching the artists of ITNY!

And finally, even more stuff for skating and dance fans to fill their holiday stockings with - the 1958 Omnibus television special, Gene Kelly - Dancing: A Man's Game has finally become available on DVD.  Among the guest stars on this never-previously-released special are Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, Edward Villella... and Dick Button!

Get a sneak preview of all the titles mentioned above at the following links:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


All My Children and As the World Turns actress Cady McClain had this to say on her Facebook page about the passing of the legendary Peter O'Toole:

So sad to hear the news of Peter O'Toole's passing. He was lovely to me when we worked together on My Favorite Year (I was Tess, his daughter). A gracious and lovely man. I am grateful I had the opportunity to pass through his life. He will be missed.

Watch Cady and Peter in a clip from My Favorite Year, below:

Monday, December 16, 2013


In honor of ABC-TV director's Doug Wilson's Book, The World Was Our Stage, I offered excerpts from an interview he graciously granted me for my own 1999 book, Inside Figure Skating, about how Television Changed Figure Skating:

Read Part #1, here.

Part #2, here.

Part #3, here.

Part #4, here.

Part #5, here.

And now there's even more exciting news for skating fans!

The man who created figure skating commentary as we know it, Dick Button, himself, has a new book out, too!  (Link to buy at the bottom of this post.)

Not only was Dick the first man to do a triple jump in competition, not only did he invent the flying camel, but he is also the founding father of professional skating competitions! While Doug was featured in Inside Figure Skating's chapter entitled Lights, Camera, Axel, I focused most of Chapter #3: Competition, on Dick's work.  Please enjoy an excerpt below, and keep checking back to this blog for more!

In 1952, when Dick Button won his second Olympic gold medal and turned professional, he wanted to keep competing.  But, there was no place for him to go to fulfill that ambition.  The only pro opportunity was the World Professional Competition in Jaca, Spain.  Established in 1931, it originated in England, then moved to Spain in the 1960s.  However, that event was mostly for ice-show skaters, an "open" contest that accepted all comers, regardless of ability.  The majority performed the same numbers they skated every night in shows like Ice Capades, only without show-lighting, and were judged by their peers.  Prize money was a paltry $2,500 for singles, and $3,000 to be split between both partners in a Pairs or Dance team.
After convincing ABC and CBS to televise amateur events, Dick Button, in the late 1960s, approached the ISU with a plan to start a similar, professional circuit.  But, interest was minimal.  The ISU thought a pro world championship was too radical an idea.
Working independently, in 1973, Button presented the initial World Professional Figure Skating Championship, in Tokyo.  His plan was to provide a place where skaters could develop their craft and their artistry, a sort of graduate school for the elite.  He wanted to give every skater the opportunity to keep growing as a performer and a technician, and, to this day, he grows disappointed when some fail to take advantage of their chance, or when he sees pro skaters who don't change or progress from who they were as amateurs.  1992 Olympic Bronze Medalist Petr Barna used to drive Button crazy.  He wanted to know why no one would take him in hand and do something with him, teach him to stand up, to stretch, to have a concept for a routine?  It broke his heart, because he saw potential wasted.     

Button also wanted to establish a pro competition as a setting for skaters to earn sufficient money.  In 1973, first prize at this World Professional Championship was $15,000 in each category.
The first competitors at the event included newly turned pro Janet Lynn beating Hungary's Zsuzsa Almassy.  As an indicator of the upsets that were soon to characterize professional competition, the last time Lynn and Almassy had gone head to head, at the 1969 Worlds, Janet finished 5th, while Almassy won the Bronze.  Over in the men's division, American spinning sensation and the 1955 & 1956 World Silver Medalist Ron Robertson defeated Canada's Don Jackson, the 1962 World Champion and first man to perform a Triple Lutz in competition.  In last place was John Misha Petkevitch, who won his only U.S. title in 1971, fifteen years after Robertson retired.

The Pairs division was won by Soviet, Olympic champions, the Protopopovs.  Determined that his World Professional Championship live up to the internationalism of its name, Button invited them through the USSR Federation.  The skaters were dying to come, but, until the moment they stepped off the plane in Japan, no one knew whether their government would let them.  (Because the USSR Federation refused to cooperate, the next Soviets to compete at World Pros were 1988 World Champions Vallova & Vassiliev, in 1989.  When  Candid tried to request Soviet skaters through official channels, they were always turned down.  It was only when they went straight to the skaters themselves that Russians became World Pro regulars).

As unwilling to give up control then as they would be in the 1990s, the ISU fought Button's "unauthorized" championship, making it necessary to wait seven years before another one could be held.  (In the meantime, Button put on events called The World Skate Challenge, to bypass ISU objections over the words World Championship.)

Following the 1980 Olympics, Button attempted to put together an event pitting established stars like Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill against "kids" fresh from the Olympics.  However, the older skaters were afraid that losing a professional event would tarnish the luster of their Olympic titles.  The only way Button could convince them to take part, was to make the 1980 World Pros a team competition, with no individual scores. 
That first contest proved so successful - despite the "Stars of the 1980 Olympics" team, including Games' Silver medalist Linda Fratianne, Gold Medalist Robin Cousins, Bronze Medalist Charlie Tickner, and Babilona & Gardner, soundly defeating the "World and Olympic Professional Stars" team of Fleming, Hamill, and Starbuk & Shelley -- that their team format stayed in place through 1981 and 1982.  In 1983, for the first time, individual results for all four divisions were tallied in addition to the team event, though prize money still went to the top team.  That year, Janet Lynn prevailed over Dorothy Hamill, who, in their last head-to-head finished 4th to Janet's 2nd at the 1973 Worlds, as well as Linda Fratianne who, in 1973, at age twelve, was only the U.S. Junior Silver Medalist.
In the men, however, youth prevailed, as 1980 Olympic Bronze Medalist Charlie Ticknor beat 1976 Olympic Bronze Medalist Toller Cranston, and 1960 Olympic Bronze Medalist Don Jackson.

According to ABC's Doug Wilson, "Dick Button was a pioneer in many respects, and he was a pioneer in giving skaters a venue where they could compete for money and earn a living outside of skating in shows.  He's now created, in a sense, his own league."

Candid Productions' Vice-President Jirina Ribbens credits the success of those first World Pros, as well as the subsequent ones to "a combination of sponsor, television, and public.  You can't have (professional competitions) just for the public.  It doesn't pay for itself.  The prize money is way out there."  (It also does not include the appearance fees given to select skaters, regardless of their final placement).

Television also demanded that the event not be broadcast to the viewers at home in the same order that it was viewed by fans attending the event.  Explains Ribbens, "It's very ironic that, for the public at large, skating is all about women.  For skating fans, skating is all about men.  When you do an event live, you always have to end with the men if you want the best evening.  When you do an event for television, you always want to end with the women, if you want people to stay tuned.  If we play the competition the way it runs live (with men as the final event), we lose viewers.  But, if you keep teasing the women, TV viewers stay tuned."

More behind the scenes from the professional skating world coming up soon.  In the meantime, click the link below to check out Dick's book, in his own words!

Alina Adams worked with Dick Button and Doug Wilson as a figure skating researcher for ABC Sports.  She is also the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series, including Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime.

Friday, December 13, 2013


This week, I wrote a post for Mommy Poppins about the difference between general Emergency Rooms, and Pediatric ones, which specialize in treating the unique needs of children.  I included a list of Manhattan hospitals who have pediatric ERs. (Read it, here.)

It's a topic I've been passionate about for a long time. Children are not merely miniature adults, and treatments effective for grown ups may be downright dangerous for kids.  For instance, a hemorrhaging adult may have his spleen removed to staunch the bleeding, and recover with no ill effects.  A child who undergoes the same procedure will also seemingly recover and be sent home.  Only to die a year later from a cold because their immune system has been critically compromised.

So how did I first learn about the importance of taking a child to a Pediatric Emergency Room - even if it isn't necessarily the nearest Emergency Room?

Why, from romance novels, of course!

The hero of my 2000 contemporary romance for DELL, When a Man Loves a Woman (#506 on RomanceNovels Top 1000 of all time!) was a pediatric trauma surgeon, and the heroine a pediatric neurosurgeon.  The research that I did to make the ER they work in feel as authentic as possible made me aware - even before I became a parent myself - just how key knowing where to take your child for initial treatment is for their ultimate survival.

How did I do? See for yourself in this excerpt from When a Man Loves a Woman:

Dr. James Elliot was waiting on the brilliantly sunny roof of Los Angeles Valley Hospital even before the chopper, carrying his eight-year-old Caucasian male victim of a fall from a seventh-floor window, landed on the helipad. When the doors opened, Elliot was the first to reach the gurney. He smiled reassuringly at the boy with the plastic collar clamped around his neck, before firing off a succession of questions at the paramedics who'd brought him in, all the while running alongside the gurney on its way to the Code Room.

Once inside the Code Room, Elliot allowed Jeff Greenwood, a Second-Year resident, to take over the initial examination. Valley was a teaching hospital, after all. They were big on the learn-by-doing method.  And all the residents rotating through the Pediatric Emergency Room were supposed to learn from Dr. Elliot. He may have been only forty-three years old, but in the eyes of the residents, he was the Grand Old Man of Pediatric Trauma Medicine.

Elliot hypothesized that was because, before he showed up, no one actually believed something so specific should be a specialty. The medical establishment figured that what worked in Adult Trauma should function just as well with kids. And then they wondered why the mortality rate was so much greater among children. Creating a trauma unit especially for the under-eighteen contingent opened a lot of eyes, triggered a mountain of journal articles, and earned E1liot a nationwide reputation as the specialist in his field.

Tongue firmly in cheek, Elliot told anyone who asked that his extensive experience was the reason for the 'Old' in 'Grand Old Man of Pediatric Trauma Medicine.' It wasn't the gray he periodically noticed streaking his otherwise raven-black, curly hair. Because, save that, Elliot was in the same shape he'd been in college, when playing semipro hockey helped foot the medical-school bills. These days, however, he stuck to a set exercise schedule - mostly because of the physical demands of his profession. In Emergency Medicine, every second counted. When Elliot wasn't sprinting toward a patient, he was slicing a human chest open practically with his bare hands, or standing for hours, plugging bullet holes gushing from a drive-by shooting victim. If Elliot wasn't in perfect shape, his patients risked suffering for it.

Just like the patients risked suffering when their attending physician was only a Second-Year resident, still wet behind the ears. That’s why, when Jeff Greenwood, in his haste to check out the ABC’s of elemental trauma - airway, breathing, circulation - overlooked the harsh scratchiness in the little boy’s voice as just the result of hoarse crying, rather than a potential lung problem, Elliot stepped in. He called for an X-ray, followed by blood gas. The numbers he got moments later from the lab confirmed his fears: a collapsed lung. With a twitch of his finger, Elliot signaled for the thoracotomy tray. He stretched on his surgical gloves, reached for the syringe of anesthetizing lidocaine, and inserted the needle between his patient’s fourth and fifth ribs. Their boy had stopped crying. The collapsed lung was making it painfully impossible. He squirmed and struggled inside his restraints, but had yet to utter a word. That disturbed Elliot. Most kids would have been cursing him out quite colorfully by now. He liked it that way, Screaming kids were kids with the will to live. It was the quiet ones that made a Pediatric Trauma Surgeon’s heart beat faster.

Still, his immediate priority was the collapsed lung. Elliot asked for a scalpel, and made an incision beside the pinprick left by his needle. He stuck his finger into the hole to keep it open and prevent it from bleeding, then asked for the chest tube. Mouth slit in concentration, Elliot threaded the clear, plastic tube past his finger, into the surgical wound. He kept pushing until large, pink bubbles began burping into the tube. Pink bubbles. Not red. Not bloody. Thank God. The lung was working again.

Score one for the good guys.

Elliot turned to his patient. "Say something for me, kiddo."

The child just stared back, blankly. Not a good thing. But at the moment, not a primary thing.

With the lung crisis out of the way, Elliot and Jeff completed the rest of their exam, patching up each critical injury as they went along, in order of severity, and double-checking that the boy was stabilized. Finally, at the end of a very long morning, they turned their attention to his baffling muteness. Unfortunately, as far as they could see, there was no physical cause for it.

Which, under no circumstances, meant that there was actually no physical cause for it. It just meant they couldn't see it.

Greenwood suggested to Elliot, "Maybe we should ask Dr. Brody in for a consult."

Deborah Brody was their Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and an expert in juvenile neurological injuries. Shed been with the hospital for eight years, ever since Elliot, after half a decade of phone calls, had convinced her to leave her boring post in San Francisco for a place that really saw some action.

Elliot told Jeff, "Good idea. Brody’s in today. Go ahead and page her."

"Actually, Dr. Elliot" - Jeff massaged an X ray between two of his fingers, leaving a smudge on the file - "I was hoping you could do it. See, I... Frankly, sir, she scares the hell out of me."

Elliot didn't try to disguise his smile. In all seriousness, he observed, "She'll be happy to hear that."

"I know," Greenwood said.

Elliot dialed Brody’s pager number and recorded a message. While they waited for her to arrive, Jeff asked, "You and Dr. Brody, you two go back a really long way, right?"

"Twenty years," Elliot said. Then, because there was nothing else to do for the time being, and because the account came with a moral to young doctors about making snap judgments, he told Jeff about how, when they met on the first day of medical school, Elliot thought Brody was the biggest idiot he'd ever encountered.

In retrospect, Elliot still asserted he couldn't be blamed for jumping to such a conclusion. After all, what was he supposed to think, when the woman sitting beside him at the second best medical school in the country couldn't remember her own name?

The professor had roll-called, "Brody?"

Deborah continued sitting there, hands primly clasped in front of her, blank as could be. It was only after the second "Brody?" that she jumped to self-conscious attention, awkwardly raising one hand in the air to announce, "Oh, that would be me, I guess."

A first-class idiot, Elliot decided on the spot. She just had to be sleeping with someone important on the admissions board. And all Elliot had to say about that was, she better be damn incredible in bed, because, on the surface, the chick wasn't much to look at. Oh, sure, she had that all-American thing going for her. Blushing cheeks, peaches-and-cream complexion, big hazel eyes, and gushing chestnut hair that she rolled up in a bun, probably hoping to look more professional. If you liked that sort of thing.

Elliot, personally, preferred the more sophisticated type.

It wasn't until he and Brody ended up, against his wishes, in the same study group, that Elliot learned the reason for her ditziness on that first day. Deb had gotten married to Max Brody two weeks before the fall quarter started, and medical school was the first time she heard herself called by her new last name. Elliot also learned, a touch to his chagrin, that the young woman sitting beside him was about as far from a first- class idiot as... as... Well, as Elliot himself was.

And Elliot was not a man prone to low self-esteem.

As a result, he and Brody spent their four years of med school constantly trying to one-up each other in the classroom. One day he'd be top of the stack, the next day she'd be. When it came time for them to graduate, for the first time in UCSF academic history, two students were named number one in their class.

And the precocious, straight-A twentysomething she'd been then was still visible in the forty-one-year old woman who bustled into the Trauma Room in response to Elliot’s page. Having heard Jeff’s opinion of her, Elliot watched with amusement as a pair of First-Years actually seemed to flinch when Deborah walked by. He didn't blame them. While Dr. Brody wasn't condescending or cruel, like some of the other senior staff, she did have a very, very low tolerance for incompetence, unpreparedness, or plain, old-fashioned stupidity. She expected things done right the first time, and if the resident in front of her couldn't hack it, she would find someone who could. There were no second chances in brain surgery.

Which was precisely why Deborah had chosen her specialty. That, and one more, rather personal reason.

Years ago, Deb confessed to Elliot, "My mother was an amazing woman. She ran a household, raised four kids, chaired all the PTA meetings, sat on the board of five local charities, and put up with my father. But, still, no matter what she achieved, my dad would get this condescending smile on his face, and he would remind her, ‘Well, it isn't exactly brain surgery, is it, Elaine?’ That’s all I ever heard growing up. And that’s what made me decide, if brain surgery is considered the pinnacle of what a woman could achieve, then, by God, I was going to be a brain surgeon."

She'd just begun reviewing the compiled test results that slid before her, when Deborah’s beeper sang its five-tone concerto. She excused herself, picked up the nearest telephone, and dialed her assistant while exchanging bemused smiles with Elliot behind Jeff’s back about the resident’s anxiety in going toe-to-toe with her.

"Yes, Francie," she said. "What’s the crisis?" Deb listened closely. "I see." Then, "I'll be there as soon as I can." Brody hung up the phone and returned to the test results.

"Do you think maybe the - " Jeff began.

Deborah cut him off. "These look fine. Whatever the reason for your boy’s silence, it isn't neurological." She turned toward the exit. "I've got to go."

"But." Jeff’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. He looked from Elliot to Deb, confused. "Dr. Brody. Wait."

"What?" She pivoted, visibly in no mood to be second-guessed, especially by a Second-Year.

Concerned, Elliot took a step forward. Deborah Brody may not have suffered fools gladly, but it also wasn't like her to be this brusque with a resident. They were, after all, a teaching hospital. They were there to make better doctors, and Senior staff mentoring the Junior ones was a huge part of the process.

Jeff shifted his weight from foot to foot, and managed to look everywhere in the room but actually at Deb as he asked, "Are you sure - I mean, how long did you take to look at the test results?"

"Sixty seconds." The brutal honesty took Jeff by surprise. But it also gave him the courage to pursue his initial objection. "Well, I've been looking at them for the last hour. How can you just come in and, after sixty seconds, decide there’s nothing wrong?"

The younger doctor had a point, and Elliot expected Deborah to acknowledge it. She was tough, but she was also terribly fair, and Greenwood was voicing an opinion she herself often gave. In fact, of all the doctors Elliot knew, Brody spent the most time checking and rechecking and rechecking test results. He'd lost count of the many nights he'd swung by her office on his way home only to catch her, coat halfway on and dangling off her shoulders, eyes glued to a particularly bothersome CAT scan.

Deborah said, "Actual1y, it took me thirty-five seconds to see there was nothing wrong. The remaining twenty-five I spent musing why a Second-Year resident at one of the best teaching hospitals in the country cou1dn’t figure that out for himself."

Stung, Jeff dug in his heels. "I was being careful."

"You were wasting time. Time that could have been better put to use figuring out what is actually wrong with this patient. You kids just don't get it, do you?" Deborah’s eyes drifted to Elliot, as if seeking his support. But he was so stunned by her uncharacteristic behavior, that he could do nothing but look back at her, confused, and worried. He was hoping she might give him a clue as to what in the world was wrong with her. But when Brody realized he wasn't about to back her up, she simply shifted the bulk of her attention back to Jeff, telling him, "We've got the best equipment, we've got the best doctors, the best research space. We should be able to work miracles here for every single patient. But you know why we don't? Time. Time, Dr. Greenwood. It’s the only thing none of us can control."

And, with a swish of the swinging doors, she was gone.


To read more, click on the link below!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


From the Independent Book Publisher's Association:

While physical bookstores may be in decline there is an ever-expanding list of niche websites and many of those are ideal for promoting digital products. Alina Adams Media has partnered with the figure skating product retailer Triple Toe Skatewear to add a section promoting books like On Thin Ice and Skate Crime. (No, I’m not trying to say crime is a holiday tradition but skating is!)

Read more at: http://www.ibpa-online.org/holidays-sales-and-marketing-tiz-the-season-for-creative-book-promotion-ideas/

Thursday, December 05, 2013


My blog post for Kveller, 7 Tidbits That Will Make You See "The Sound of Music" in a New Light, featured the following fun fact: The nun who “interferes” with the Nazi’s carburetor is Anna Lee, later matriarch Lila Quartermaine on "General Hospital." (Read the entire article, including who tried to seduce who, which moppet almost drowned - and starved - and why the character we really should be worried about is Uncle Max, here.)

Now, in advance of NBC airing "The Sound of Music - Live" tonight at 8, are seven more tidbits - this time exclusively for soap fans, about the original Broadway musical, the movie, the stage revivals, and the TV remake:

1) You know Rolf, the evil teen Nazi who betrays the Von Trapps? In the original Broadway production he was played by Brian Davies, husband of the one and only, record Emmy winner Erika Slezak (Viki; OLTL). Read all about their marriage and family life, here.

2) Nicholas Hammond who played Friedrich in the movie (he's 14 and he's impossible!) also appeared as one of Holly's con-artist cousins, Algernon Durban, on "General Hospital" in 1985.

3) Laura Bell Bundy, "Guiding Light's" first teen Marah, toured the country with Marie Osmond as Maria, while Laura Bell moved up from role to role as she grew.

4) Ron Raines (Alan; GL) also toured with "The Sound of Music," but he stuck to one part, Captain Von Trapp for the duration of the run.

5) John Bolger (Phillip; GL, Gabe; AW, Malcolm; LOV, John; OLTL, Floyd; GH) will be on hand tonight as an Admiral.

6) The role of Kurt (he's incorrigible!) in the same production will be played by Joe West, son of Maura West (Carly; ATWT, Diane; Y&R and Ava; GH) and Scott DeFreitas (Andy; ATWT).

7) Maura's longtime co-star, Michael Park (Jack; ATWT) will appear as an Austrian Baron - so it's kind of a Carkjack reunion (almost)!

Monday, December 02, 2013


It's the Cyber Monday prior to a Winter Olympics! That means every skating fan's virtual basket should be filling up with books dedicated to their favorite sport, including veteran ABC Sports director Doug Wilson's The World Was Our Stage (see the Buy link at the bottom of this post).

In the meantime, in honor of the upcoming Sochi Games, I have been posting free excerpts from my 1999 book, Inside Figure Skating, specifically the chapter, Lights, Camera, Axel: How Television Changed Figure Skating.

Read Part #1, here.

Part #2, here.

Part #3, here.

Part #4, here.

And enjoy Part #5 - The Scandal Edition, below:

Wilson reveals, "There's a no-man's land between center ice and the corner, where we have no camera.  Very often, great skaters -- because when they skate in arenas they want to cover the whole audience -- will stand in that position, making eye-contact with the audience.  And all I see is an ear.  They're looking away.  What they want to do to the audience of 1,000 people in front of them, they're not doing to the TV audience that's ten million people watching center-ice.  If they're about to present themselves to the world, it's better if we see their faces."

However, sometimes the face television presents to the world is not necessarily the one the skater wants.

Wilson asks, "How long, especially if you're live, are skaters sitting in kiss and cry and you're looking at their eyes and you're looking at their tears and you're looking at their emotions and you get to see what kind of people they are?  You can see if they have grace under pressure, or if they're not as admirable."

Those less-admirable attributes brought up by the media and grumbled about by the skaters include 1994 Olympic Silver Medalist Nancy Kerrigan's less-than-kind remarks about rival Oksana Bauil -- and about Micky Mouse.  Bauil's 1997 drunk-driving charges.  1995 U.S. Champion Nicole Bobek's arrest for felony burglary.  French Champion Surya Bonalay's romantic claims of being born on Reunion Island, despite the fact that she'd been born in France.  U.S. Dance Champions Punsalan & Swallow signing a petition to keep their main opponent, Russian-born Gorsha Sur, of Roca & Sur, from getting his U.S. citizenship in time to challenge Punsalan & Swallow for the one 1994 Olympic berth.  Punsalan & Swallow freely admitted their act on television, then, stunned by the backlash their confession triggered, blamed ABC for airing the segment, and refused to grant them anymore interviews for over a year.

On the other hand, when, in 1997, Russian, World, and Olympic ice-dance champions Grishuk & Platov split with their coach, 1980 Olympic champion Natalia Linichuk, they chose to fight all of their battles exclusively in the press.  In December of 1996, Grishuk & Platov, having been off-ice for most of the season due to Platov's knee injury, reportedly travel led to Moscow, for a secret meeting with the Russian Federation.  There, they sought a guarantee that they would win all the competitions they entered, leading up to the 1998 Olympics.  The Federation told them they could provide no such guarantee.  Grishuk & Platov then returned to their home-base in Newark, DE, to ask their coach, also coach of the 1996 World Silver Medallists, Krylova & Ovsianikov, to insure another year of victory for them, by deliberately weakening the second team.  When Linichuk also refused, Grishuk & Platov split for Marlboro, MA, and Tatiana Tarasova, trainer of 1996 World Silver Medalist Ilia Kulik.  At the 1997 European championship, after Grishuk & Platov's new dances not only won them the gold, but also an almost record-breaking twelve perfect 6.0's (England's Torvill & Dean still hold the record, 17 6.0's at the 1984 Europeans), Linichuk tried to take credit for the stunning victory, by claiming she'd participated in choreographing their new numbers.  Grishuk categorically denied the contention, adding "Let God be her judge."

God, or at least, the Russian media, who sided squarely with the skaters over their ex-coach, asserting in "6.0," the official publication of the Russian Skating Federation, "Linichuk did every-thing in her power to push Grishuk & Platov into the professional realm.  This duo had already done their thing for her (won Olympic gold) and she was convinced it was time for them to leave."  At Europeans and the subsequent Worlds, even the Ukrainian media got into the act, ruminating about their national champions, Romanova & Yaroshenko, who also trained under Linichuk, "One can only feel sorry for the athletes.  Their mentor will never make champions of them.  Linichuk is a trainer first and foremost of Russian skaters, and she always places her bets on the Russian athletes.  As long as (Romanova & Yaroshenko) keep training with Linichuk, they will see medals hanging only on the necks of their opponents."

Within months of the media declaring Natalia Linuchuk persona non gratta of skating, the coach who, at the 1996 Europeans, saw a podium filled with only her skaters (Grishuk & Platov Gold, Krylova & Ovsianikov Silver, Romanova & Yaroshenko Bronze) was down to one winning team.  Heeding the advice of the Ukrainian press, Romanova & Yaroshenko also defected to Tarasova.

But, the ice-dancing controversies didn't stop there.  At the 1997 Champions Series Final, where Grishuk & Platov won gold over defending champions, Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Viktor Kraatz, a reporter stood up at the subsequent press-conference, and, under the guise of asking a question, proceeded to deride the abilities of Bourne & Kraatz.  The woman was later revealed to be Grishuk's aunt.  Grishuk claimed ignorance.
Of course, there are those who claim that controversy is good for skating.  After all, didn't the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga trigger the 1990s-era boom of interest in the sport?

The experts weigh in on that controversial topic in upcoming installments.

Meanwhile, check out Doug Wilson's book at the link:

Alina Adams is the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series, including Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime.