Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Skating Lesson Podcast: Interview With Tai Babilonia



Jennifer Kirk and I have embarked on a labor of love together in the form of The Skating Lesson Podcast, where we interview influential people in figure skating to share the lessons they've learned along the way. Our first episode features an interview with Tai Babilonia, the 1979 World Pairs Champion with her partner Randy Gardner. Tai discusses her illustrious career, the lead up to the 1980 Olympics, personal struggles, and current issues in United States Figure Skating and its current pairs. We believe Tai's lessons have the opportunity to help so many people, skaters and non-skaters alike. Please note that this podcast is split up into several youtube clips in order to meet youtube requirements.



Part 2



Part 3



Part 4



Part 5



Part 6



Part 7



Part 8



Part 9



Part 10

39 comments:

  1. Dear Aunt Joyce, Some thoughts...

    Could you have found a better guest? She was lively, stimulating, and responsive. No wonder Mark Lund raved about her. She is fabulous.

    Aunt Joyce, I commend your poise and manner before the camera. You have more talents than you realize sir. Like Tai, I am proud of you both for starting this.

    I appreciate Tai's comments on today's scene because I think hearing from past figures reminds us that the USA program used to set trends and not just follow.

    How can we get Irina Rodnina on your show next?

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  2. Tai is correct about skaters having lower standards of public behavior. It seems mothers and fathers do not teach children how to differentiate between what to say in public vs private.

    I think part of the problem, and no offense to the Russians, is how crass and diva-tastic the Russian skaters have become since the decline of central Soviet authority. We love it, and we love reality, and there is something admirable about authentic Russian passions, but I think it has encouraged some American skaters to behave not like American role models or examples for others but more like random children.

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  3. Thank you Jenny for speaking so much truth, and looking good while doing it.

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  4. Thank you both so much for this, it was a fabulous interview.

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  5. Great interview! Tai was very insightful and honest about herself and the state of U.S. figure skating. I really enjoyed the interview and I can't wait to watch more in the future!

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  6. Allison Manley also did a great podcast (no visuals, alas) with Tai a couple years back. Go to manleywoman.com and listen! (Probably covers some of the same ground [I'm not able to listen right now]. . . alas, it was done when McLaughlin/Brubaker were still skating together.)

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  7. Jenny Kirk apparently has no taste because she chose to get a partner who is biased and unable to have a thought about skating or gymnastics that doesn't involve who sends him tweets on twitter.

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  8. Jenny is awesome but David you are horrible. Are you in a bathroom?

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  9. Adam Rappon is the biggest choker this Country has ever seen. What has he won? when has he hit when we needed it? Please

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  10. I love how people claim not to listen to the podcast yet inadvertently drop hints in their comments that make it clear they did listen to this.

    I enjoyed this podcast and I enjoyed Manleywoman's. It is possible, folks.

    Love,
    Passive Aggressive

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  11. When has Ashley been consistent? I like Tai but she has no clue what she is talking about.

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  12. Didn't she mean Ashley's been more consistent under Nicks? She certainly has this year.

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  13. Did you watch the finals of the grand prix? getting second with two falls is not more consistent.
    Ashley has been all over the place her entire career. This year is no different.

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  14. I have a question for Aunt Joyce. All the times you made fun of Rachael Flatt and calling her fat do you understand how counter productive it is now since this interview?
    Look what Tai and Jenny have gone through. Is this what you like contributing too?

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  15. Tai was bringing earth mother realness. Good job, you two. Can't wait till the next one!

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  16. Im going to find my old VHS of Tai's tv movie after this.

    A-mazing.

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  17. you know it is interesting listening to this interview. You can see why Tai was a champion, just by listening to her. She seemed like an insanely driven person, she had undying faith in her partner and her coach. She was not mouthy. She seemed more worried about what her and her partner were doing then what the rest of the world was doing. She did not make excuses. ZVery interesting.

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  18. Why is it that when women and men have eating disorders, they seem to wear them like a badge of courage. It is not really to help people, they almost seem proud of it. Never understood that, but I had another friend who was a heroin addict now she is clean and all she does is talk about steps 5, 8 12 etc. I realize now that she some how was more normal when she was shooting.

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  19. Do you have to have an eating disorder to be a skater? We really have no fat ones other then fat ass meryl.

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  20. I listened to this on the iPod. Great great great! I did not watch the video. I am really looking forward to watching this to pick up different body language.

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  21. I feel for Tai. I think she has been through a lot. I am just not so sure how much of it is related to skating. She was interesting though in the fact that they were far more marketable after they did not compete in the olympics then if they had won silver or possibly even gold.

    I feel bad for Tai, as I think she is fragile. I am just not so sure how much of that is due to skating. I remember once when in an interview someone asked her if she had to do it over again, would she? I remember this CLEARLY she said to tell you the truth, I probably would not, but I am glad I did. I thought this was very very interesting.

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  22. I think Tai and Jenny wear their badges of an eating disorder like pride because it gets them the attention they still til this day seek daily.

    Someone above made a great point of AJ making fun of gymnasts and skaters for their weight and how he feels sitting between two girls that had the same issue he helps cause when he calls them names

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  23. Aunt Joyce cannot be accused of encouraging anorexia. It is a serious mental affliction, and some people are predisposed to it by genetics and personality. Family and adult influences play a significant role as well as social pressures. I think the point of discussing personal issues in this podcast is to help people learn what they can and cannot control in a high pressure competitive situation-- to empower people with knowledge. The body image pressures created by the sport are real. To deny them doesn't make them go away, and to joke about them doesn't make them any worse. The social pressures to be thin can be dangerous, but to equate any criticism of body shape/fitness with inducing anorexia/mental illness is absurd.

    The whole sport tends to play a role in the manifestations of eating disorders. I think the only way the sport can improve in its influence on young competitors is through individuals gaining awareness of how situations and adult actions (or lack of action) contributed to a young skater's eating problems.

    The day is not coming when every body type is considered as attractive as the next. There will always be some body types more valued than others in the sport, and the tendency for some 40 years has been to value the leanest and least large. This goes along with the reality that jumps and spins are so much harder when you have extra body fat.

    Rachael Flatt needs to be advised not to wear sleeveless outfits unless she plans to tone up her arms. Perhaps her arms are just fine how they are and there is not much she can do about it. I get that, but again, I think the comedy about her only works because she really just needed to put more effort into how she dressed herself for competitions.

    You can take my opinions for whatever you think they are worth, but I think you have not enough wit or insight into skating to understanding Aunt Joyce's comedy.

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  24. I agree with MT about Rachael Flatt and the eating disorder issue. Not all skaters have or need to have eating disorders but all do have to consider their body type and body image. This means eating not to gain weight if they are were they should be and to lose weight if they are above where they should be. Where they should be is where skaters like Michelle Kwan or Ashley Wagner are or were. Some skaters clearly take it to extremes, which is unfortunate and probably doesn't help them. (I'm thinking of Sasha Cohen at her 2010 comeback, for example). But some, actually most, succeed just fine without becoming skeletal. I am going to say something about Rachael Flatt that I probably wouldn't say on a skating board: she needed to lose weight and work with weights to build muscle and a little definition. She wasn't fat. She didn't need to starve herself. But her sport demanded more--more than she was willing to give, apparently.

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  25. I think having that Brady Bunch kid pop your cherry must have been rough. She seemed complementary of him. I thought that was the reason she tried to kill herself. I wouldn't think he would be that bad at it, but maybe

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  26. Way to make excuses for AJ Margaret Thatcher.

    Are you really that daft ? Joking about someones weight does just as much damage even if you are trying to be funny. How about I make fun of you being gay, would you find that funny but hey I am only kidding.

    Jenny and Tai should be ashamed of themselves for aligning themselves with people like you.

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  27. Why are athletes so stupid about their bodies? You'd think these people would know most about building muscle and keeping a low body fat level and training well. Instead, we have to deal with silly little girls who starve themselves and vomit up their food. What are they thinking? "Yeah eating 500 calories a day and sticking my finger down my throat - that's taking straight to the Olympics!" The only people I think who really understand nutrition are Ashley Wagner and Patrick Chan. Everyone else just eats whatever mommy and daddy put on the table or have an eating disorder.

    That's what we get for having so many teen girls in our sport. The bright side is that the anorexic ones look so pretty. Yuna Kim only ate one bowl of cereal for dinner. Take note, Rachael Flatt.

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  28. Hey AJ, did you change the settings on your formspring? Because now I have to sign up with Facebook to ask questions, when I didn't have to do that before. Just ruling out whether it's on your end or mine. Thanks.

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    1. I didn't change my settings, but I notice that I am asked to log in on my phone way more times when I use the ap.

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  29. The USFS was contacted to provide a comment on the interview. This is what they had to say:

    http://theskatinglesson.com/2013/01/05/u-s-figure-skatings-response-to-the-skating-lessons-interview-with-tai-babilonia/

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    1. I thought their response was pathetic and also insulting to Tai. And since when are Lisa Ervin(?) and Scott Hamilton "more recent" skaters?

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  30. Love, love, loved this interview! Very candid, real, nice glimpse into those days of figure skating that we all watched, as well as insights into the current skating world. Loved her then, and love her now. The worst thing for these poor pairs girls is how much unstated pressure they feel -- if the lifts are not good, it's because they are not thin enough. they feel it from their partner, their coach, and the people who should be giving them unconditional love -- their parents. Is it any wonder they develop eating disorders? Those who scoff at that just sound stupid. Look at any current pairs skater -- they are all skeletal. Typical of USFS to bury their heads in the sand regarding this.

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  31. I haven't had time to listen to this interview yet and have little idea what it says, but I hope it criticizes USFS. The overwhelming pressure they place on our top skaters is almost ludicrous. You're never allowed a bad competition in their eyes, and then they wonder why so many skaters quit after a rough outing. Ashley Wagner, who has been far and away the best US lady all season and easily one of the best in the world, could be one rough skate away from being left off the World team because USFS cannot just have Nationals be Nationals-- it has to be some insane pressure cooker and a be-all, end-all World/Olympic team selection. Not that USFS is the only country doing this, but they are close to being the only one. Notice how a top Russian pair had to miss Russian Nationals, but their country still recognizes that they are good enough for Worlds. In the US, they'd usually just forget about you if you are injured or have one bad day.

    But the pairs issue is not all USFS's fault. Pairs is a huge problem worldwide. The sport has gotten too hard for adults, and unlike China, the US is not going to put up with eating disorders. Even China is running out of pairs- the sport is too hard. Most teams can't even do a lot of the elements well, never mind present a full package

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    1. Just to elaborate on my point about Ashley Wagner---- She puts enough pressure on herself to win Nationals... She doesn't need the added burden of having to prove AGAIN this season that she should be representing us at Worlds this year. She should already be qualified through a points system or something. Instead, she has had no choice but to recover very quick from her injuries sustained at the Grand Prix Final so that she can be 110% at Nationals, two months before Worlds. If she wasn't so consistent, I'd totally worry about the pressure that girl must be feeling on her shoulders right now, most of it because USFS is so unforgiving.

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    2. I understand the point of view that USFS should probably do a better job w/ their 4CC and especially their Worlds selections, but on the flip side I would hate the see Nationals turn into an event w/ very few consequences. If fans and skaters know the likely World teams before the event (save a few bubble spots that could go one of two/three ways), it really knocks the event down. Might as well be Korean nationals or Italian nationals.

      Re: Ashley Wanger-- she doesn't have to be 110%. She prob needs a 3 triple LP w/ her wildly inflated PCS to win. If she can't even pull that off... well.. And if she is injured, she should WD and get a bye to Worlds, which USFS would gladly give her.

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  32. Ashley should have to prove herself at Nationals to go to Worlds.

    What Ashley did a month ago has no merit on her deserving to make a team in March

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  33. Did Tai recently break up with her long-time boyfriend comedian David Brenner?

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  34. the interview was terrific! Thank you for starting the podcast.

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