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  1. #1
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    John Misha Petkevich - a forgotten skater?

    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
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwUfx...63AUAAAAAAAAAA

  2. #2

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    I love the montage!

    I shared the following in a message to floskate, which I'll post here, as well:

    He was my favorite skater pre-Toller/John; and so little appreciated now - not enough footage I guess.
    I've seen a bit more than you have; but, very little

    After all, DB passed the blades that Salchow gave him to John - saying that he left the sport better than he found it.
    John and Toller had a long "mutual admiration society"' for one another's work.
    I'd say that DB and Toller realize something that most others don't.
    He did his "On the Waterfront" program at the 1974 World Pro competition held in Russia (prototype for the later Landover competitions) where he finished second to Ronnie Robertson.
    I saw it; as it was broadcast on "Wide World of Sports". However, there was no way for me to record it, then. It was/is one of those performances that "lives in my memory", though,

    He would make a wonderful subject for one of manleywoman's skatecasts.
    I hope that it will happen someday.

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    Oooh -- I remember his skating. Just gorgeous. Thank you for the montage and the memories. (And I see that the male pattern baldness tradition for the US men is pretty darned dominant.)

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    Article featuring his spectacular performance at the 1968 US Championships:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...8000/index.htm

    Some of you might be familiar with his book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Figure-Skating...tt_at_ep_dpt_1
    Last edited by skatesindreams; 04-04-2012 at 12:46 AM.

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    I remember John Mischa Petkevich's skating fondly!

    Mischa was the color commentator with John Tesh for CBS at the 1984 Worlds championships! I don't know whether that was his only TV gig or not.

    Also, Dick Button gave Mischa the trophy Ulrich Salchow gave him.

    I've often wondered whether Mischa has given anyone else the trophy, and if so, to whom he gave it?

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    Great montage, Floskate!

    Here is his program from 1972 US nationals:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmVr4tszems

    Even with the fall, this is a truly wonderful program.

    His book IMHO is the best instructional skating book there is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DORISPULASKI View Post
    Mischa was the color commentator with John Tesh for CBS at the 1984 Worlds championships! I don't know whether that was his only TV gig or not.

    Also, Dick Button gave Mischa the trophy Ulrich Salchow gave him.

    I've often wondered whether Mischa has given anyone else the trophy, and if so, to whom he gave it?
    Yes, it was passed on at the 2010 Evening of Champions to Paul Wylie. He (Misha) was the commentator for 1977 Europeans, 1988 Skate America and a whole bunch of World Pro's.

    ETA: The passing on of the Salchow trophy

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    floskate, thank you, I'm glad to hear where it ended up!

    and to know that Misha's broadcast career did not end because John Tesh has difficulty pronouncing the words "John Misha Petkevich"

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    Wow so elegant and athletic.

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    Those jumps are HUGE.

    JMP looks a little like Jeremy Abbott, John Curry, Michel Brezina, and Paul Martini.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    Thank you for this. John Misha was one of my favorite skaters when I first followed the sport. He had the 'bulk' of a big hockey player yet was so elegant.
    Dick Button Historical Quote of the Month: "Good for you, Lucinda Ruh!"

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    Not forgotten!

    He skated at my Boston-area rink when I was a very small child - I was thrilled to take a few lessons with him, and even as a little kid I realized how lucky I was. Just watching him stroke around the ice, he was so amazingly powerful and graceful. An inspiring and wonderful teacher.

    There are not enough videos of his gorgeous skating. I remember him performing and announcing at the Harvard benefits, too - impromptu skates, it seemed, that brought the house down.

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    viennese, how fortunate you were!

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    Quote Originally Posted by floskate View Post
    John Misha Petkevich - Renaissance Man
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwUfx...63AUAAAAAAAAAA
    Thanks for the montage floskate (thanks for all of your montages btw). I have his book, but I have never seen him skate.

    I miss all the open and tuck jumps that skaters used to do, they go up so high and then hover for a moment, so breathtaking.

    Does he do any coaching nowadays?

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    I agree very lucky! And I'm very jealous - that must have been an amazing experience Viennese.

    Skatesindreams I tried your Sports Illustrated link and all I get is a gateway timeout. Did a bit more rifling through old magazines last night and there were reports that he was landing triple lutzes in practice at both 1969 Nationals and Worlds. Considering that we had to wait until 1974 for the next triple lutz, it is a shame he never tried it.

  16. #16

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    Skatesindreams I tried your Sports Illustrated link and all I get is a gateway timeout.
    Try this now. It works for me:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...8000/index.htm

    eta:

    Thanks for sharing the photo of the "passing" of the Salchow trophy!
    Last edited by skatesindreams; 04-04-2012 at 08:07 PM.

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    Anybody know what he's doing now? Still investment banking? The last thing I heard is that he was married to Elisabeth Silby.

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    I remember him well & being from Montana he was considered an athletic icon here in his day. I seem to remember that he was considered the man who brought athleticism to mens figure skating. Thank you for posting this as I didn't have a tape recorder at the time.

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    viennese, that is so cool! I idolized Petkevich when I first became a skating fan.

    Thank you Floskate and skatesindreams.

    I'll never forget Petkevich. Back when figures counted for 50% or more of the total score and great freeskaters like Janet Lynn and John Misha Petkevich failed to make the podium, fans in the arena and TV audiences alike couldn't understand why. I remember that Janet's name was always mentioned when there was talk of increasing the value of freeskating, and if there was another name mentioned, it was always John Misha Petkevich. It may not be apparent to today's fans, but he had a huge impact on the sport.

    I remember that for years and years, Petkevich was the expert commentator of the World Pros and the Challenge of Champions, and I'll always be grateful to him for the Evening of Championship skating. (And yes, I have his book. )

  20. #20
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    Thanks so much floskate, for that montage and the memories. I fell in love with skating ~'68-69, and he was my very first favorite mens skater. So great to see those huge jumps and elegant footwork again.
    Disclaimer: The post contained herein represents the opinions of a fan and may or may not bear any relation to reality.

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