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John Misha Petkevich - a forgotten skater?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by floskate, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    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
  2. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    I love the montage!

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

    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.
  3. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    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.)
  4. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012

    DORISPULASKI Watching submarine races

    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?
  6. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    Great montage, Floskate!

    Here is his program from 1972 US nationals:

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

    His book IMHO is the best instructional skating book there is.
  7. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    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

    DORISPULASKI Watching submarine races

    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" ;)
  9. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Wow so elegant and athletic.
  10. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

    Those jumps are HUGE.

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

    Thanks for sharing.
  11. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan

    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.
  12. viennese

    viennese Well-Known Member

    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.
    kwanfan1818 and TheGirlCanSkate like this.
  13. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    viennese, how fortunate you were!
    viennese likes this.
  14. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    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?
  15. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    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. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  17. Johnny_Fever

    Johnny_Fever Well-Known Member

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

    merrywidow Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. pollyanna

    pollyanna In denial

    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. :shuffle:)
  20. AYS

    AYS I'd rather have a pug for my president

    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. :)
  21. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    I couldn't resist posting this comment below the video on youtube - the club's sign is prominently in it...

    If I were a figure skater, I dont' think I'd want to skate for the "GREAT FALLS" Figure skating club!
    kwanfan1818 and Spun Silver like this.
  22. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Which move specifically was the Bourkey? Considering the lack of knowledge of the writer, I'm not sure if he's referring to a variation on a delayed axel?

    Whatever happened to Arthur Bourke?
  23. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    The bourkey was a variation on a stag jump. The front leg is not only bent but turned over with the inside of the thigh and calf facing up. There is a photo of him doing it in his "how to" book published by Sports Illustrated.
  24. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    The Bourkey is shown a couple of times in the vid. It comes from a flip take off and the clearest example I used is at 1.44 in the video. I'm pretty sure Brian Orser used to do Bourkey's in his LP's back in teh day but would need to check.
  25. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Ahh, so it's a variation on the flip. Hard to tell without seeing the actual takeoff. Thank you.

    Again, whatever happened to Arthur Bourke? Anyone?
  26. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    Yep and the free leg comes round in a fouette move to make the stag position before landing. No one does this anymore so clearly it isn't 'on the books' so to speak. If a skater were to use this as a transitio would it be counted as a single flip? Imagine a clockwise Bourkey landing on a LBO then counter turn into double axel. That would be cool :)

    Sorry, I have no info on Arthur Bourke.
  27. vivika1982

    vivika1982 Well-Known Member

    Your creation is very good/as always/ and educational and you should've post it in GSD instead of the Trash Can .
  28. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    Thanks Vivika but no, it does belong here because it's not current skating news :)
  29. muffinbiscuit

    muffinbiscuit Active Member

    I first became fascinated by figure skating during the Squaw Valley O's, but JMP suckered me in and I have never left.
  30. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    I'd have to do my research, but along with Chengjiang Li, John Misha Petkevich must have the record for most top 5 finishes at worlds without a medal (1 4th + 3 5ths, which is exactly Li's best placements too).

    In terms of free skating, I'd say Petkevich and Ron Shaver of Canada were the best free skaters of the 1970s without world medals.
    kwanfan1818 likes this.