Friday, August 27, 2010

History Lesson: The Original Asian Wonder Child

In recent years, Asian-Americans have made figure skating the new piano and violin. The phenomenon is nearing its 30th anniversary this spring. It all began with a Chinese-American named Tiffany Chin who inspired the likes of Kristi Yamaguchi and coaches everywhere.

Tiffany Chin was initially developed by Frank Carroll and Janet Champion. Training alongside Linda Fratianne and Christopher Bowman, one can only imagine the level of budding talent on display at the rink every day. Armed with a brilliant triple toe and trademark Frank Carroll edges and flow, Tiffany charmed the world at the 1981 Junior Worlds.

The on-set of Tiffany's career also brought about a new phenomenon: The Asian Skating Mother. Stage parents and skating mothers are an everyday occurrence in the sport, yet the Asians have taken it to another level with their drive, focus and unabashed obsession with winning. Given that Frank was already dealing with Christopher Bowman's teenage antics, it says volumes that the talented Tiffany Chin was the first famous student he had to "fire" and it was due being unwilling and unable to deal with 'The Dragon Lady' any longer.

While leaving Frank Carroll is rarely a good sign for one's career, Tiffany made a brilliant coaching move to John Nicks. Due to years of experience with pairs, Mr. Nicks knows all about showcasing the lady. He took her amazing Frank Carroll basics and added stunning positions, illusion spins and arm movements. Mr. Nicks, that sly fox, knew just how to make the audience salivate. Tiffany's skating is the perfect marriage of Nicks and Carroll, an obvious gay dream.

Based on pure skating, Tiffany Chin was worthy of the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. Free from pressure due to being buried by the judges in compulsory figures, she gave the one inspiring ladies free skate in the event.

Skating is all about taking one's turn, and Tiffany took hers at the 1985 US Nationals. Skating cleanly but conservatively, Chin captured gold but showed signs of tentativeness that did not bode well for defeating Katarina Witt at the World Championships.

Katarina Witt has the evil East German ability to intimidate anyone and one can feel that Tiffany sensed her presence while on the ice at the 1985 Worlds. The Dragon Lady was not pleased with her daughter or her coach and soon switched coaches to Don Laws. Convinced that something was wrong with Tiffany, the Dragon Lady took her to doctors who found a bizarre muscle imbalance that continues to confound doctors and coaches alike.

Neither Chin's confidence nor her jumps would ever be restored. While we'd never see the same brilliance, the Chins did give us a gift: a fluff piece at the 1986 Worlds. It is this fluff that may have been her greatest performance. The brilliance of this fluff makes us all wish cameras were a constant presence in the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club this summer.


  1. That last bit of the fluff piece is heartbreaking. Sounds like these Asian mothers are creations from a long lost Dickens novel.

  2. I doubt Chin's mother is actually that much worse to some of the mothers today. Mama Zhang and Callaghan only lasted a few weeks.

  3. Holy mofo...I'd never seen the '86 fluff piece. I wonder what Tiffany could have accomplished without the brainwashing and emotional abuse heaped on her by her mother. How sad that any mother's wish that her daughter be successful morphed into this fanatical mess. Makes me wonder what happened to Tiffany after the cameras left. Hope she's all right, today. What became of Tiffany Chin?

  4. Tiffany Chin is the coach who brought Bebe Liang to the senior level.

  5. I saw the fluff on Youtube - loved the dedication.

    Mrs. Chin scares me. How about for March Madness, when everyone does stupid brackets, you put together one of crazed skating moms?

  6. seeing that picture of her laying there on the couch with her head rolling all over the place with those eyes moving, I thought she was a quad from all of the manipulation

  7. The opening line of this post rings so true: "In recent years, Asian-Americans have made figure skating the new piano and violin."