Brian Boitano

Brian Boitano

Infobox Figure skater
title= Brian Boitano

country= USA
dateofbirth= birth date and age|1963|10|22
residence= San Francisco, California
height= 5' 11"
formercoach= Linda Leaver, Sandra Bezic
skating club= Peninsula FSC
retired= 1988, 1994

Brian Anthony Boitano (born October 22, 1963 in Mountain View, California) is an Italian-American figure skater from Sunnyvale, California. He is a four-time US National Champion (1985-1988), two-time World Champion (1986, 1988) and the 1988 Olympic gold medalist. He became a professional skater following the 1988 season, and once again in 1994.


Early career

Brian Boitano first made his mark on the international scene when he won the bronze medal at the 1978 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, beating future rival Brian Orser for that medal. [cite book |last=Smith |first=Beverley |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=A Year in Figure Skating |year=1997 |publisher=McClelland & Stewart |location= |isbn=0771027559 ]

In 1982, Boitano became the first American to land a triple axel. In 1987, he introduced his signature jump, the 'Tano triple lutz in which the skater raises his left arm above his head. He attempted a quadruple jump throughout the 1986-87 season and at the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships, but did not cleanly land the jump; he double-footed the landing on two occasions.

Boitano was known primarily as a jumper early in his career and he, along with several other skaters, helped push the technical envelope of men's skating. It was not until his failure to defend his World title in 1987 that he focused specifically on improving his artistry.

Boitano placed second at the 1984 United States Figure Skating Championships, earning himself a trip to the 1984 Winter Olympics. He placed 5th at the Olympics, setting the stage for the next four years.

World Champion

Following the 1984 Olympics, several skaters emerged as likely medal hopes following the retirement of Scott Hamilton.

Boitano won the 1985 United States Figure Skating Championships, the first of his four titles. At the first World Championships of the post-Hamilton era in 1985, Alexander Fadeev won, with Brian Orser finishing 2nd and Boitano 3rd. At the 1986 World Championships, Boitano took the title, while Fadeev had a disastrous free skate despite having been in an excellent position to win; Orser finished 2nd once again.

During the 1986-87 season, Boitano had introduced two new elements to his programs: the 'Tano triple lutz and a quadruple toe loop, although he never succeeded in landing a clean quadruple jump in competition. The 1987 World Championships were held in Cincinnati, giving defending World champion Boitano a home-field advantage. The outcome of the event would set the tone for the 1988 Olympics. At Worlds, Boitano fell on his quadruple toe loop attempt and placed second.

After losing the world title to Orser at home, Boitano and his coach Linda Leaver decided that some changes needed to be made if Boitano was to become the Olympic champion.cite book |last=Bezic |first=Sandra |authorlink=Sandra Bezic |coauthors=Hayes, David |title=The Passion to Skate: An Intimate View of Figure Skating |year=1998 |publisher=Andrews McMeel Pub |location= |isbn=0836264525 ] Boitano had always been good at the technical requirements ("The first mark"), but he was weak on the artistic ("the second mark"). He was a self-described "jumping robot". In order to help his growth as an artist, he hired choreographer Sandra Bezic to choreograph his programs for the 1987-1988 Olympic season.

Bezic choreographed two programs that had clean lines and accentuated the 5' 11" Boitano's skating. The short program was based on Giacomo Meyerbeer's ballet "Les Patineurs" in which Boitano plays a cocky young man showing off his tricks, using movements dating back to the 19th century. In one famous moment, Boitano wipes ice shavings, also called snow, off his skate blade and tosses it over his shoulder after landing a triple axel combination. The free skating program was based on the film score, "Napoleon", detailing various phases of a soldier's life.

Boitano debuted his new programs at 1987 Skate Canada, held in the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the same venue in which he would compete against Brian Orser for the Olympic title three months later. Boitano's new programs were received with standing ovations by the audience. Although Orser won the competition, Boitano skated clean, landing seven triple jumps, including a footwork section into a jump. Boitano, Leaver, and Bezic were so confident about the strength of Boitano's new programs that they omitted the quadruple toe loop, which if landed, could have put him a shoulder above Orser in technical merit.

The short program at the 1988 United States Figure Skating Championships proved to be a highlight. Boitano received marks of 6.0 from eight of the nine judges for presentation, the second mark. His free skate was flawed. Due to delays, he did not skate until after midnight. Still, Boitano won the competition, and went into the Olympics as the national champion, as did Orser.

1988 Olympics--Battle of the Brians

Going into the Olympics, Boitano and Brian Orser both had won a World title and both had excellent, balanced repertoire, with Boitano being known as the slightly better technician and Orser as the better artist. Adding to the rivalry, Boitano and Orser were both performing military-themed programs. Boitano's was to the music of Napoleon.

The Battle of the Brians at the 1988 Winter Olympics was the highlight of Boitano's amateur career. Boitano and Orser were effectively tied going into the free skating portion of the event and whoever won that portion would win the event. Alexander Fadeev had won the compulsory figures section of the competition with Boitano second and Orser third. In the short program, Orser placed first and Boitano second. The free skating was, at the time, worth 50% of the score, and so Boitano's lead would not be enough to hold him in first place if he lost the free skate.

Boitano skated a clean, technically excellent long program, with eight triple jumps, two of them Axels, and a triple-triple combination. Orser made one small mistake on a jump and omitted his planned second triple axel. Boitano won the Battle in a 5-4 split. Boitano won the gold medal wearing skates with American flag appliqués, that are part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Following the Olympics, both Orser and Boitano went to the World Championships, which Boitano won. Boitano turned professional soon after.

Professional and return to Amateur

Following the Olympics, Boitano went on to dominate competitions in the professional ranks, winning 10 straight professional competitions, including 5 consecutive World Professional Championship titles and 4 consecutive wins at the Challenge of Champions. Boitano also appeared in "Carmen on Ice", for which he won an Emmy. However, Boitano wanted to return to amateur competition and make another run at the Olympics.

Boitano's lobby proved successful and in June 1993, the International Skating Union (ISU) introduced a clause, commonly known as the "Boitano rule", which allowed professionals to reinstate as 'amateur' or 'eligible' skaters. This had been the result of Boitano's active involvement during the early 1990s, which saw professionals being allowed in the Olympic Games in the sports of tennis and basketball. [cite news
last = Knisley
first = Michael
title = 1998 Ad
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = Sporting News
date = 1994-03-07
url =
accessdate = 2006-12-07
] Boitano reinstated as an amateur to compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

Boitano competed at the 1994 United States Figure Skating Championships, led after the short program, but lost to Scott Davis in the long program in a 6-3 split decision. Boitano was named to the Olympic team. Going into the Olympics as a medal favorite in a strong field, Boitano missed his triple axel combination during the short program for the first time in career. This mistake proved extremely costly, and knocked Boitano out of medal contention. He skated a good long program and finished 6th.

Boitano returned to the professional ranks afterwards. He was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1996.

Competitive highlights



What Would Brian Boitano Do?

A caricature of Boitano as a superhero appears as a semi-recurring character in the cartoon series "South Park". The movie "" (1999), features a musical number titled "What Would Brian Boitano Do?". Boitano also appears in a 1995 Christmas cartoon that was a prototype of South Park, entitled The Spirit of Christmas. The name of the song is a parody of the popular slogan What Would Jesus Do?

Boitano skated to a modified version of the song during his "Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular" in 1999.Fact|date=July 2008


* Boitano is a graduate of Peterson High School in Sunnyvale, California. [ Who’s Who in Santa Clara Unified?] , accessed September 6, 2006.]
* Boitano won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Don Jose in "Carmen on Ice".
* Boitano was featured in the Super Bowl XXVI halftime show "Winter Magic" along with Gloria Estefan and Dorothy Hamill. [ [ Super Bowl XXVI (1992) (TV) ] ]
* Boitano is considered to resemble actor Bronson Pinchot, to the point where he was considered for a guest role in the TV series "Perfect Strangers", as a relative of Pinchot's character.
* Appeared briefly in the 2007 film "Blades of Glory" as a world skating federation judge


External links

* [ Brian Boitano's U.S. Olympic Team bio]
* [ Brian Boitano Fan Club]
* [ Brian Boitano's Gold-Medal Skates at the National Museum of American History]


NAME=Boitano, Brian
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Boitano, Brian Anthony
SHORT DESCRIPTION=United States figure skater
DATE OF BIRTH=Birth date and age|1963|10|22|mf=y
PLACE OF BIRTH=Mountain View, California

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