As a diversion from the endless crappola that has been particularly evident post Worlds this year, I was watching some of my favourite tapes and came across some old programs by John Misha Petkevich. There will be many here who remember him fondly, but equally plenty of skating fans who may know his name but have no recollection of his skating. Is he in danger of being forgotten? There is hardly anything online to watch so I thought I would try and rectify that and have made a montage of his best work.
Misha first came to international attention by finishing 3rd at the 1968 Philadelphia Nationals - creating a sensation with his Espana Cani free program - and thus gaining a place on the Olympic team that year. He brought the house down a year later in Colorado Springs at the World Championships but a 7th place in figures put paid to any chance of a medal.
A year later he turned up at Worlds in Ljubljana with a long program to music from On the Waterfront which for it's time was unheard of. Modern and unique, it created a stir but not enough marks to get on the podium. He had planned to try three triples at this event - toeloop, sal and lutz - but only the sal was successful. Figures also held him down again.
1971 and the retirement the previous season saw him finally win the US title with a wonderful performance marred only by a last second fall as he tried a double axel into a sit spin. Come Worlds and the move was gone but small errors and weak figures once again kept him off the podium. This was to be the story of his career at Worlds where figures continued to hold him back and despite the brilliance of his skating, unexpected errors would keep him from achieving his potential internationally.
Also in 1971 Misha won his only two major international titles at the World University Games and the very last North American Championships. Ironically he won the figures at North Americans and this was enough to hold off a brilliant freeskate from Toller Cranston in the free to win the title.
In 1972 Misha took a year out from his medical studies at Harvard to concentrate on one last try at the Olympic Games. It started disasterously at the Nationals in Long Beach where a fall on the triple sal and a step out on the triple loop saw him lose the title to Ken Shelley, who had already won the pairs title that week with Jo Jo Starbuck. The Olympics didn't go much better but he closed out his amateur career in Calgary at the World Championships with one of his best free skate performances.
While at Harvard in 1970, Misha began the Evening of Championship Skating that continues to this day. He went on to become a Rhodes scholar and earn a PhD in cell biology before working in investment banking, as well as commentating for mvarious US skating broadcasts.
Misha is credited with being one of the very best free skaters of his era using athletisicm and musicality in equal measure, breaking down the boundaries of how men were supposed to skate at that time. His jumps were incredibly high - nothing like it is really seen in todays skating. I hope you enjoy the video
John Misha Petkevich - Renaissance Man