View Full Version : Manleywoman Skating Podcast #63: Audrey Weisiger interview, Part One
03-31-2013, 10:10 PM
Hi all, and happy Easter!
Here is Part One of my interview with Audrey Weisiger, coach and creator of both Grassroots to Champions (G2C) (http://grassrootstochampions.com/) and Young Artists Showcase (YAS) (http://youngartistsshowcase.net/). As a coach, her most notable students were most Michael Weiss (throughout his entire career), and Tim Goebel (at the end of his career). She talks about her beginnings in the sport as both a skater and a coach, what it was like finally getting a skater to the Olympics, and how it was working with Tim Goebel after he was fired by Frank Carroll.
Part Two talks more about G2C and YAS.
The interview is available at my website at www.manleywoman.com (http://www.manleywoman.com/episode-63-audrey-weisiger-part-1/) and will be at the iTunes Store.
04-01-2013, 12:27 AM
Just finished mixing down Part Two! So you're all getting a 2 for 1 today. :)
She talks at length about the late choreographer Brian Wright, both Grassroots to Champions and Young Artists Showcase, her thoughts and ideas on how to get the fan base back into figure skating, and how IJS can evolve.
So here's Part Two. (http://www.manleywoman.com/episode-63-audrey-weisiger-part-2/)
04-01-2013, 06:33 AM
Wow, thanks so much manleywoman. I really enjoyed listening to your interview with Audrey (both parts). There were so many wonderful nuggets, anecdotes, ideas and insights. She was very entertaining and there's so much food for thought in what she shares. Audrey is amazing and yet so matter of fact about the heroic things she has done in contributing to the sport of figure skating. Happy Easter to you too, manleywoman! And thanks again to you and to Audrey!!!
Folks, this is a must listen, IMO! There were quite a few things Audrey related that resonated with me, especially in terms of her outlook on the importance of the artistic and performance aspects of the sport. I agree with her that kids today need to learn the fundamentals and gain an understanding of the "language" of the sport. I also believe young figure skaters should practice figures more and take dance and theater lessons, and/ or some kind of movement classes. In addition, they should be taught more about the history of the sport. ITA with Audrey that its essential for coaches to increase their knowledge and for there to be a coming together of everyone to help develop students to their absolute best. Audrey has certainly been doing so many important things to put her ideas into action with her Grassroots to Champions program, the summer camps, and the Young Artists Showcase. I loved Audrey's anecdotes about the impact that YAS has had on Kate McSwain, Garrett Kling, Tommy Steenberg, Bebe Liang, Mark Hanretty, Robert Mauti, etc.
It was also great learning so much about Audrey's own competitive years in the late sixties through mid-70s. Her embarrassing moment was epic! Cool how she pointed out that ultimately she learned from it, despite how distressing it was at the time. Fascinating about Weisiger's family background and how she feels that she's the least accomplished in a family of PhDs, musicians, ambassadors and rocket scientists. I agree with your comment to Audrey, manleywoman, re "begging to differ" with her assessment. Audrey is obviously masterful at what she does, and its amazing that she started coaching at age 17, and still managed to earn a degree in Broadcast Communication from Georgetown University.
I love Audrey's approach of focusing on teaching people, rather than just teaching skating. It was great hearing her talk about Michael Weiss as a young skater whom a lot of people did not think would get very far because he struggled as a young skater to master all the jumps and he didn't have a lot of flexibility. She related such a funny anecdote about Tamara Moskvina's initial thoughts about the young Michael. It was also very revealing how Audrey said she looked for ways as a coach to motivate Michael based on his interests and personality, and that over time something "clicked" in him.
That was a very interesting discussion of Audrey’s decision at Junior Worlds in 1993 when Mike was planning to do a 3-axel but U.S. officials complained that he could win without it especially since no other competitor was planning to do a 3-axel. Audrey recalls saying to herself: “You’ll either be a hero [if he lands it], or you’ll be the worst coach in the world.” It’s so amazing that Audrey was fully prepared to accept either eventuality. Audrey’s position was: "I knew he could do it, so why not go for it? … For me, as a coach, I knew it was not about that one moment, but about the development of the skater. I wanted him to win, but I didn’t want to undermine his potential.”
Audrey’s thoughts about Tim Goebel were very poignant:
“Even though I only had a short time working with Tim, it meant a lot to me.”
Frankly, IMO, although everyone tends to lament that it was the downside of Tim's career in his final competitive seasons, I feel Tim actually began to develop more artistically and it seems to me he was coming into his own in that aspect. Now, I realize how much Audrey's influence had something to do with Tim beginning to express himself more on the ice. Indeed, Tim should feel so proud of all he accomplished, particularly in overcoming the challenges he faced after leaving Frank Carroll, and specifically at Portland Nationals when he was very emotional re the death of Angela Nikidinov's mother. Tim certainly achieved a great deal of success too with Frank, and with Carol Heiss. An Olympic bronze medal is nothing to sneeze at.
04-01-2013, 09:34 AM
It was also insightful and wonderful to hear Audrey's reminisces of Brian Wright:
... Brian Wright had heavy influence on skating and heavy influence on the people that he met. We need more people like that. He brought a unique style of movement to the ice. He started off as a dancer and that’s why I think his work was different. Maybe we can get back to that vocabulary.
I also agree with Audrey's thoughts on the importance of coaches working together more to develop skaters to their fullest potential. As well, Audrey's reflections on how to help the sport grow resonate a lot with what I have been thinking. ITA with Audrey that a different approach needs to be taken in providing more opportunities for young skaters to develop within the sport by playing to their strengths, i.e., having competitions for those who excel individually in jumping, or in spinning, or in figures, or in artistry and then having a competition for all-around skaters. More skaters would be able to stay in the sport longer and more would have a wider variety of opportunities to succeed.
I wish Audrey and everyone involved much continued success with Grassroots to Champions, YAS, and all the other educational efforts and endeavors that are ongoing to make this sport better and to help the skaters shine.
I'd love to see the U.S. Nationals performance that Audrey spoke about of Madame Butterfly (choreographed by Jerry Renault?) for which she received so many standing ovations as a junior skater. I wonder if any old clips exist?
04-01-2013, 10:42 AM
Fantastic interview, once again!
I am frequently amazed by the of the openness of your interviewees and by how generous they are with their time. Of course, having a well organized and inviting interviewer allows the interviewees to shine. ;-)
Keep up the great work. I love listening.
04-01-2013, 01:41 PM
I haven't had a chance to listen, but having skated at Audrey's rink (as an adult skater) for years, I think she has been a great influence on the sport and the skaters. Our rink was never the snakepit that some are, she didn't allow that sort of behavior by skaters or by parents. There was at least one occasion where Audrey turned down a very high-profile skater who asked if she could train there, and it was partly because during that skater's tryout week she did not follow standard ice etiquette and was rude to the younger skaters.
04-01-2013, 03:03 PM
Keep up the great work. I love listening.
Thank you. :)
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