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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up The Matt Savoie Appreciation Thread

    I had tried to start one before, but didn't get a response.
    http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/showthread.php?t=81123

    About time, no?

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    Matt has always been one of my favorite US men's skaters. With all due respect to Mike Weiss (whom I like), I felt Matt should have made the Olympic team in 2002. When Todd opted not to go to Worlds that season, my first thought was, "Oh, I hope that means Matt will get to go!" I was so thrilled that Matt did make the Olympic team in 2006.

    I'm not sure if we actually got to see Matt compete @ 1998 US Nationals. We were there, but was he able to compete back then, or did he have an injury? Back then was he still a junior, or was he skating on the senior level?

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    You didn't get a response! Unbelievable. Matt has so often been mentioned favorably in other threads. Thanks for trying again to start a tribute thread for Matt, aemeraldrainc!

    In the underrated skaters thread, I had mentioned that Matt deserved his own thread. Here is part of my post about Matt Savoie from that thread:


    I will always associate Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings with this performance from Matt:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFAsNpBJbk0 2005 Nats sp

    Matt was so undermarked and so underrated -- he should have been scored in 5.7 - 5.9 range for technique and 5.9 - 6.0 for presentation and been in first place. Many youtube posters give Matt fine tributes and rip the judging. One post tho' which mentions that skaters placed before Matt had quads, except for Johnny, are absolutely incorrect. Evan Lysacek did not have a quad in 2005, but he was placed ahead of Matt, incredibly. The 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, and 5.1 !?, marks for Matt for this performance are absolutely shameful and disgraceful.

    Fortunately, Matt did not allow the disrespect from the judges and his own Federation to dissuade him from continuing to pursue his goals.

    Matt was an elegant, understated skater, and I believe his personality is also elegant and understated. What peerless and sublime transitions he exhibited on and off the ice, during and after his skating career:

    Matt Savoie graduated summa cum laude from Bradley University in 2002, with a major in political science and a minor in biology. He went on to earn his master's degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005 and received the AICP Outstanding Graduate Student Award for 2005. He was admitted to the law school at Cornell University in 2005, but obtained a deferral for a year to focus on making the Olympic team. He joined the program in September 2006, and graduated in 2009. Following his competitive career, Matt completed a four-year term as the athlete representative to the Single & Pair Skating Technical Committee of the International Skating Union. He is currently working as an associate in the law firm of Choate Hall & Stewart. (Wikipedia)

    Hopefully, others will post their memories about Matt and links to favorite performances. Thanks again, aemeraldrainc!

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    Quote Originally Posted by paskatefan View Post
    Matt has always been one of my favorite US men's skaters. With all due respect to Mike Weiss (whom I like), I felt Matt should have made the Olympic team in 2002. When Todd opted not to go to Worlds that season, my first thought was, "Oh, I hope that means Matt will get to go!" I was so thrilled that Matt did make the Olympic team in 2006.

    I'm not sure if we actually got to see Matt compete @ 1998 US Nationals. We were there, but was he able to compete back then, or did he have an injury? Back then was he still a junior, or was he skating on the senior level?
    I checked Wikipedia, paskatefan, which indicates that Matt placed 4th at U.S. Nationals in 1999, and he competed at Junior Worlds that same season and placed 4th. Also, Matt was first in Juniors at 1997 U.S. Nationals, and he placed 11th at senior U.S. Nationals in 1998. I remember thinking when I first saw Matt at senior Nationals early in his career (probably in 1999, the year he placed 4th), that he was going to become the next great U.S. champion, but for some reason the timing was never right for him, nor did he receive the full appreciation he deserved.

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    Then we did get to see him! Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    You didn't get a response! Unbelievable. Matt has so often been mentioned favorably in other threads. Thanks for trying again to start a tribute thread for Matt, aemeraldrainc!

    In the underrated skaters thread, I had mentioned that Matt deserved his own thread. Here is part of my post about Matt Savoie from that thread:


    I will always associate Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings with this performance from Matt:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFAsNpBJbk0 2005 Nats sp

    Matt was so undermarked and so underrated -- he should have been scored in 5.7 - 5.9 range for technique and 5.9 - 6.0 for presentation and been in first place. Many youtube posters give Matt fine tributes and rip the judging. One post tho' which mentions that skaters placed before Matt had quads, except for Johnny, are absolutely incorrect. Evan Lysacek did not have a quad in 2005, but he was placed ahead of Matt, incredibly. The 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, and 5.1 !?, marks for Matt for this performance are absolutely shameful and disgraceful.
    Even as far back as 2005, the judges had an inexplicable love fest with Evan Lysacek, who actually was gifted a 6.0 for artistic impression in the SP of the same competition as this beautiful performance from Savoie. In what bizarre alternate universe should this performance by Lysacek ever be worthy of a 6.0? Everything about his performance qualities here are of a juniorish and immature quality, IMO. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAWdSzNdiZE and http://www.usfsa.org/event_related_d...rmen-short.htm The fix was in very early in the career of Evan Lysacek. No wonder a skater has so many opportunities for success when he has such blatant favoritism from his federation.

    Matt's marks, on the other hand, are criminally low here; deplorable judging that in my mind should result in a ban from every judge on the panel of this event.

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    He's was so talented, I had the honor of meeting him and his coach one time, very nice people. Loved his entry into the 3A, great transitions.

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    Matt was so underrated by judges. My tell me (though again, don't know how accurate this is) that he was told many times to move to a place where he could have a more politically-astute coaching situation, but he refused. Good on him for staying loyal and making the Oly team anyway.

    He should have National champ at least once. I remember Johnny Weir during a press conference after an SP that he didn't deserve to be in first after the SP and that "some other skaters" performed better.

    Would love to interview him for the podcast.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

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    I really miss Matt's skating. Never was judged fairly at all. It sucked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by museksk8r View Post
    Even as far back as 2005, the judges had an inexplicable love fest with Evan Lysacek, who actually was gifted a 6.0 for artistic impression in the SP of the same competition as this beautiful performance from Savoie. In what bizarre alternate universe should this performance by Lysacek ever be worthy of a 6.0? Everything about his performance qualities here are of a juniorish and immature quality, IMO. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAWdSzNdiZE and http://www.usfsa.org/event_related_d...rmen-short.htm The fix was in very early in the career of Evan Lysacek. No wonder a skater has so many opportunities for success when he has such blatant favoritism from his federation.

    Matt's marks, on the other hand, are criminally low here; deplorable judging that in my mind should result in a ban from every judge on the panel of this event.
    Totally agree. I've said it before, but I think Matt's career would have been vastly different if it had been moved ahead five or six years. Yes, he competed under CoP, but he was just slightly past his prime (in terms of jump consistency) and had already been labeled an "almost boy" by the judges. His intricate choreography, inventive jump entrances, and flowing steps no doubt influenced many skaters that came after him. He was a skater totally built for CoP before CoP existed. I certainly think every single aspect of his skating is far superior to the current Olympic champ's, and in his prime he was consistently delivering 8 triple programs. So, it's not a stretch to think that under different circumstances he could be a World or Olympic Champ. Regardless of his gold medal-less resume, Matt was a wonderful skater who represented the US well time and time again, and I will always remember him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    Matt was so underrated by judges. My tell me (though again, don't know how accurate this is) that he was told many times to move to a place where he could have a more politically-astute coaching situation, but he refused. Good on him for staying loyal and making the Oly team anyway.

    He should have National champ at least once. I remember Johnny Weir during a press conference after an SP that he didn't deserve to be in first after the SP and that "some other skaters" performed better.

    Would love to interview him for the podcast.
    Agree with all the above!
    Have you contacted him?
    I would be so happy if he did a podcast!

    My thoughts, from the other thread:

    I was in the arena for 2005 Nationals.
    I watched Matt's SP - the "Adagio" as tears streamed down my face.
    An unforgettable privilege.

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    Matt was my special favorite when he was competing. I think he was a forerunner to Jeremy Abbott (my current special favorite) in his body movement, interpretation, intricate choreo, etc.

    My favorite Matt moment was his 2006 Nationals freeskate. Beautiful performance, and what a privilege to see it live and to feel the crowd fully behind him. :

    Now he's a corporate raiding attorney in Boston. Doesn't he look handsome in his suit and glasses?

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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    Would love to interview him for the podcast.
    Oh please do!!! He has to be one of the most private/introverted/low profile skaters there ever was, yet hugely fascinating. Would love, love, LOVE to hear about him talk about his skating career and life in general.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheylana View Post
    Now he's a corporate raiding attorney in Boston. Doesn't he look handsome in his suit and glasses?
    He's always had a huge factor for me, not just in terms of skating. Loved those dark curls
    Last edited by shine; 04-27-2012 at 05:13 PM.

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    manleywoman, his contact information is available in the link above, as well.

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    Matt may be the most underscored skater ever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    Matt was so underrated by judges. My tell me (though again, don't know how accurate this is) that he was told many times to move to a place where he could have a more politically-astute coaching situation, but he refused. Good on him for staying loyal and making the Oly team anyway...
    ITA! I was thinking in looking back at some of Matt's performances, how remarkable it was that he grew up and trained in his hometown, and that he managed to continue doing so when he became an elite skater, not to mention attending school at the same time and receiving excellent grades! Few skaters seem able to stay with the same coach throughout their careers (I think Derrick Delmore stayed loyal to Shirley Hughes; Brian B to Linda Leaver; and I hope this will happen for Jason Brown and Kori Ade too )

    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    ...He should have [been] National champ at least once. I remember Johnny Weir during a press conference after an SP [said] that he didn't deserve to be in first after the SP and that "some other skaters" performed better.
    I remember Johnny saying that too -- (I believe it was at 2005 U.S. Nats) and I recall immediately feeling that Johnny was referring to Matt's exquisite and unforgettable Adagio for Strings sp at 2005 Nats.

    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    ...Would love to interview him for the podcast.
    I was hoping this would happen too. Glad you are hoping to do so. Good luck, and thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Triple Butz View Post
    ... I think Matt's career would have been vastly different if it had been moved ahead five or six years. Yes, he competed under CoP, but he was just slightly past his prime (in terms of jump consistency) and had already been labeled an "almost boy" by the judges. His intricate choreography, inventive jump entrances, and flowing steps no doubt influenced many skaters that came after him. He was a skater totally built for CoP before CoP existed. I certainly think every single aspect of his skating is far superior to the current Olympic champ's, and in his prime he was consistently delivering 8 triple programs. So, it's not a stretch to think that under different circumstances he could be a World or Olympic Champ. Regardless of his gold medal-less resume, Matt was a wonderful skater who represented the US well time and time again, and I will always remember him.
    ITA!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheylana View Post
    Matt was my special favorite when he was competing. I think he was a forerunner to Jeremy Abbott (my current special favorite) in his body movement, interpretation, intricate choreo, etc.

    My favorite Matt moment was his 2006 Nationals freeskate. Beautiful performance, and what a privilege to see it live and to feel the crowd fully behind him. :

    Now he's a corporate raiding attorney in Boston. Doesn't he look handsome in his suit and glasses?
    Yes, thanks for posting.

    Matt seems so levelheaded and sane, but his skating also seemed to express such depth and complexity of emotions. Matt apparently had a wonderful relationship with his choreographer, Tom Dickson. I recall Matt discussing something once about the process of being courageous in revealing a different aspect of his personality and learning how to be a stronger competitor. Can anyone else recall or find the exact quote?

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    Kirk Wessler, of the pjstar, (Peoria, Illinois) Matt's hometown paper; has written some wonderful feature articles about him.
    I had the links, and lost them when my computer "crashed".
    If someone could help me locate them, I would be very grateful.

    They are well worth reading,

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    ^^ It may be that some of Wessler's articles on Matt are no longer available online. I found this link:
    http://www.pjstar.com/blogs/wessler/...ria-s-Olympian

    And this: scroll down for Matt reference

    http://www.pjstar.com/sports/x576553...up-for-Bradley

    And in the below link, Wessler recalls how he first attended U.S. Nationals in 1998 to cover Matt's first appearance in seniors. Wessler said he became "hooked" on figure skating that year when "I saw Michelle Kwan paint a record 15 perfect 6.0s."

    http://www.lincolncourier.com/sports...-but-still-fun Scroll down

    Here's a nice feature on Matt and his Mom:
    http://ofadam.com/PJSfront/20060214.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    ^^ It may be that some of Wessler's articles on Matt are no longer available online. I found this link:
    http://www.pjstar.com/blogs/wessler/...ria-s-Olympian
    I believe you are referring to the article written by Kirk Wessler. Excellent article. I can't find a existing link to it but luckily I have it saved:
    Deconstructing Savoie
    Coach's tough love helps Peorian reach Olympics

    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2006

    BY KIRK WESSLER
    OF THE JOURNAL STAR

    Sometimes, you've gotta break the rules.
    Kathy Johnson understands that, as surely as she cut to the core of Matt Savoie's being almost the instant she met the Peoria figure skater.
    Johnson saw talent that was only self-limiting. She recognized willpower turned oddly inward. She demanded Savoie explain himself, listened to his existential philosophy, determined he was hiding behind his intelligence and told him he was full of baloney. Only she wasn't that polite.
    The people around Savoie pulled Johnson aside and warned her to be careful: You don't know the rules of dealing with Matt.
    "There are no rules," Johnson replied. "I'll tell him exactly what I think."
    And this is what Johnson told Savoie:
    "I will, if I have to, drag you kicking and screaming to the next level, because you are that talented. I don't care what you say. What matters is what's inside of you, and it is fully within your artistic grasp to get it out of yourself. You can disagree with me all you want, but on the ice, you will create something magnificent out there."
    As it is kicked in the butt, so let it be done.
    Savoie will compete Tuesday and Thursday at the Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, because what he created last month at the U.S. championships was, indeed, magnificent.

    Improving the artistry

    The last piece to the Matt Savoie puzzle was Johnson.
    Savoie's first coach was Linda Branan, with whom he linked up at Owens Center at age 9. Sixteen years they've been together; an eternity beyond comprehension in the musical-coaches land of elite skating.
    But Branan is not Savoie's only coach. She put aside whatever jealousies or insecurities that might have tempted her and resolved to get help whenever it was needed. Over the years, Gene Hefron of Rockford joined Team Savoie to help perfect the skater's jumps, and Tom Dickson of Colorado Springs came aboard to direct choreography.
    Savoie's athletic ability was never in doubt. From the beginning, he exploded into jumps. The most difficult ones, the Axel and the Lutz, he executes with the greatest ease. Skating fans rave on his classic line. If Savoie wanted to turn his spins into a virtual trademark, as retired seven-time national champion Todd Eldredge did, he could.
    Gordie McKellen, a former three-time national champion, saw Savoie at age 13 and predicted greatness. Dick Button, who parlayed five world championships and Olympic gold medals in 1948 and '52 into a career as the sport's king of television commentary, has been unabashed in his respect for the Peorian. Savoie's fans waited for him to break through. And waited. And waited.
    But he forever seemed to hold something back.
    So much of figure skating's appeal is the way a skater's artistry makes seem effortless the raw strength and coordination required to jump and rotate and land on a skate blade one-eighth of an inch wide. The ability to sell that illusion to the audience and ultimately to the judges is where the real lines of separation between the competitors are drawn.
    But Savoie is not into illusions.
    Though his artistic marks in the old 6.0 scoring system improved steadily, they did not reach the consistent 5.8s and 5.9s of his chief rivals. In the new Code of Points, there is more emphasis on the difficulty of the technical elements, plus bonuses for such nuances as entries into jumps, long a Savoie strength. But the artistic component, how the skater interprets the music and ties all the elements together, is where he continued to come up short.
    Until Dickson introduced Savoie to Johnson, a graduate of Julliard School of Dance and resident modern dance teacher at the World Arena in Colorado Springs.

    Head games

    "She's a smart cookie," Branan says of Johnson. "She can read people very, very easily."
    Johnson read Savoie so well, sometimes the skater would wonder whether she resided in his brain.
    An honors student who will enroll at Cornell University's law school this fall, Savoie can be a masterful debater. Appeal to his intellect with a rational argument, and you can convince him to go along. Flub your point, and he'll go his own way.
    But there was more.
    Though Savoie is flattered by the appreciation fans shower on him, he disdains the spotlight. He is one of the most self-critical people you could ever meet, and his knowledge of his own shortcomings fuels his fear that he might not deserve his accomplishments, let alone the accolades that accompany them. Then there's the guilt he feels for even having a desire to, say, defeat an opponent and win a championship. Or, heaven forbid, be an Olympian.
    Johnson spotted all of that and set about deconstructing every layer of Savoie's psychological defenses.
    "Everything people achieve in life, from the mundane to the loftiest things, starts with a deep desire for something," she says.
    "I told him, 'If you didn't desire this, you would've quit. You had better desire to be on that podium. I hope you desire an Olympic medal. Why would you not?'
    "He said, 'That would be self-indulgent.' "
    Savoie's comment set off Johnson, who challenged why he would take a position so counter to his natural humility. She turned the skater's contention back on him and called him a hypocrite; implied he was an elitist who looked down on anyone who desired such things.
    "I'd better feel desire coming out of every inch of your body," Johnson told Savoie before nationals. "I want you to skate with the desire to do the best skate of your life."

    Ready for the largest stage

    Moments before Savoie took the ice for his free skate at nationals, Dickson got in his face and asked, "What are you going to do out there?"
    "I'm going to be a different person," Savoie replied.
    Dickson calls that moment the turning point in Savoie's career.
    "The way he looked at me was different than ever before. It was almost shocking." Dickson says.
    What Savoie did that afternoon in St. Louis transcended any program he had performed.
    Dickson choreographed the 4-minute, 40-second performance with music from "The Mission," a story of Portuguese missionaries in the jungles of Brazil. The character Savoie plays begins with uncertainty, wrestles with self-discovery, squares off with the devil and emerges reborn, triumphant and whole. It requires little stretch of the imagination to see the parallels to Savoie's own skating life.
    True to form, Savoie brushes off suggestions that the storyline could be his autobiography.
    "If I tried to self-identify with the part, I would be a lot more subdued than would be effective," he says.
    Dickson and Johnson chuckle: That's Matt.
    Dickson credits Savoie for finally coming to the realization there "could possibly be two different Matts, and he uses the program to transform himself."
    Johnson agrees, but emphasizes the two Matts are still one in the same being; one drawing on the other for its inspiration and giving both life.
    "Tom is a choreographic genius," Johnson says. "It's a great piece for Matt. It's totally part of him. Matt would fight it. He would ask how I wanted him to do something with the character, and I would say, 'It's not my story, Matt. It's your story. Bring what you feel. That's what imbues a character with its life.' "
    Savoie is this part. He feels it, breathes it, works through the pain and fear of it, embraces it, celebrates it. At nationals, he grabbed the fans and carried them through his journey until they no longer could contain themselves and sprung to their feet to celebrate with him.
    "Matt doesn't look at himself as an artist," Johnson says. "But I believe skating is an art form, or (the skater) would have turned to skiing or something that was just athletic. Artists are rarely able to transport themselves to that other side of life. That's why they turn to art.
    "The audience desires to see the art. The audience wants to be transformed. They want to be taken to and shown another place."
    The place in which Savoie now finds himself is unlike any other. The Olympics are the sports world's largest stage. Fairly or not, they are viewed by the masses as the pinnacle of achievement in the sports that comprise the Games.
    Savoie arrives there a long shot, as usual. But he comes armed as never before, with the perfect program at the perfect time. All he has to do is live it. And skate it.
    Last edited by shine; 04-27-2012 at 11:31 PM.

  20. #20

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    Thank you!
    This was one of several excellent articles Mr. Wessler wrote about Matt.
    I believe that Mr. Wessler's son was a friend of Matt's; so, he had a interest in him beyond the average "news story".

    Matt is a "local boy", who has excelled in every area; and continues to do so.

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