OK, a little disclaimer on the rest of this interview. I took a little liberty on the questions and answers, and so blame me for any grammatical errors. It is difficult to transcribe an interview from voice to text, especially when you have an inexperienced interviewer (me). Also, on most of the names mentioned in this interview I link to their profile on the Ice Network. The problem is you can't see the links until you mouse over the name. I'm working on fixing that problem.
I think the takeaway from this post should be two things:
1. 1. Read Aaron’s blog as often as possible. He loves the sport and updates all of us on a regular basis. I, for one, have learned a lot about the sport from his blog and he helps keep me updated on the latest news. Read it here: http://loopaxles.blogspot.com/
2. 2. He’ll be at the Olympics, while the vast majority of us will be at home watching it on TV. So, follow his tweets, blog, and facebook. I’m looking forward to the insider’s perspective. Follow him on twitter here: http://twitter.com/skating102
So, here is Part Deux!
TP: Are you a figure skater?
AH: I wouldn’t call myself a figure skater. But once I got really into the sport, out of pure interest I put on some skates and started to skate. I know how to skate on the ice, but I don’t know how to do any big tricks or anything.
TP: When did you get into figure skating?
AH: Well, it started like so many other people. With “the knee whack herd around the world”. It was 1994 Nationals, I was in 8th grade, everyone was talking about it. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were all over the news. But the person I got the most interested in that year, wasn’t Nancy or Tonya…but Michelle Kwan, who got 2nd place in Nationals but didn’t go to the Olympics. I’ve been hooked ever since.
TP: Tell us about your writing, is that something you’ve always been interested in doing?
AH: When I blog, I like to do it. I don’t consider it a chore. Academically I’ve written a lot with my Masters and Undergrad work. I find writing easy, but if it wasn’t figure skating I don’t think I would be as interested in writing for writing’s sake.
TP: We know you love Michelle Kwan, and I think she’s brilliant, but who are your other favorite skaters?
AH: Going back to the Kwan era we have, Todd Eldredge, Meno and Sand, Alexie Urmanov (he coaches Sergei Voronov, who got bumped from the Olympics…I really like him). Moving into modern skating I like Stephane Lambiel. I like Yu-Na Kim (I think she’s probably the most deserving of the Gold if she skates well), but I don’t count her among my favorites. Shizuka Arakawa (I really liked her, I was really happy when she won Gold in Torino), French Ice Dance Team (Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Shcoenfelder), Meryl Davis and Charlie White (I think they’re brilliant).
TP: [I comment on his breakdown of the Olympic field, and thank him for sharing his expertise].
TP: What do you think of the “Be Good Johnny Weir” on the Sundance Channel?
AH: I love it! I can’t get enough of it.
TP: I’m going to bust into your interview, because I’m so glad to hear you say that. I absolutely love that show.
AH: Another friend of mine, Hugo Chouinard does the music for the Canadian team and owns Sk8Mix.com …he doesn’t get the show in Canada. So, I’ve been recording them for him, and I’m going to bring the tapes to the Olympics so he can see the show.
AH: That is good TV right there, I just can’t get enough of it. The Sundance Channel has been sending me there Press Releases, because they like my blog and wanted me to get the word out to my show. They felt like my readers would be interested in it. I think their doing a 2nd Season, because it has been a hit.
AH: Yeah, Lynn Rutherford tweeted that first. And I thought, oh no, that is actually kind of brilliant. That is made for TV.
TP: [I go on and on about how much I love this show…and so does Aaron] You can listen to the interview for the details.
AH: When you asked me about my favorite skaters, I’d like to add Johnny to that list. I have other opinions about Johnny outside of skating, and I think he could be so much better than he is…but his natural ability is superb. He didn’t start skating until he was 12 years old. He is gifted in a way in which other skaters aren’t.
TP: What events do you usually hit on an annual basis?
AH: As far as events I never miss…that would be Nationals. I’ve been every since 1998. I didn’t go this year because of the God Awful two weekend format. Nobody likes this format, none of the skaters like it, none of the fans like it. It was all done to help NBC and give them another weekend to promote the Olympics. I understand US Figure Skating was in a bind and they needed to strike a deal with the major networks, but because of that split weekend I couldn’t justify the trip for the first time since 1998.
AH: I try to make it to Skate America, a few Skate Canadas, been to World’s when it was in Vancouver and Calgary. I’ve been to so many skating competitions it is hard to remember all of them. I’ve been to Worlds three times in the US. My plan is to make it to a big International Event sometime really soon. I really want to make it, and I have an event in mind.
TP: I was going to ask if you’ve ever been to Vancouver, but it sounds like you were there for World’s when Vancouver hosted it.
AH: I’ve actually been to Vancouver lots of times. I grew up in Seattle and we would just go to Vancouver for the weekend. I was just up in Vancouver less than a year ago for the Four Continents Cup, I went to that event to see the Olympic Venue to see it in action…thinking, “I won’t get a chance to see it during the Olympics”.
TP: If you were going to make some predictions this year at the Olympics?
AH: I think if Plushenko
stands up on two feet, he’s going to be handed a Gold Medal. People say he doesn’t have the same components
as like a Patrick
Chan or an Abbot,
but I don’t think that matters. The
judges love him. I see Evan
Lysacek on the podium. I think he is
going to make himself skate well, and I think he’ll be on the podium. Third spot is up for grabs, Patrick Chan, Ado,
Joubert. If I had to pick one to
make it to the podium, I’d say Joubert.
On the ladies side: I think it will be Kim Yu-Na, I think Mao Asada and her triple axels will probably get her on the podium. I think that Rachel Flatt is going to surprise us. She is very consistent and she doesn’t have the pressure that the other ladies have. So, I think she has a shot at the podium.
TP: What are your thoughts on the new judging system?
AH: I get the system, because the old system was way too subjective. The old system was ripe for scandal. Salt Lake City is a perfect example of how that system could be misused. I support the new system, but they have to fine tune exactly how the scoring system and slow motion replays work. How aggressive they should be on deductions. They need to hone in on the component score. They need to find a way to be consistent. I think it’s a workable system, it just has to be improved and they’ve got to get rid of the anonymous judging.