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Interview With Lorraine Borman

PSA Master Rated Coach Lorraine Borman may not have seen it all, but she's sure seen most of it. She not only coached Rosalynn Sumners from the grassroots level to a World title and Olympic silver medal in the eighties but was also the coach of one of the most brilliant choreographers figure skating has EVER seen: Brian Wright. Now working with skaters in Mexico, she continues to inspire a new generation of skaters to achieve their goals in the sport. It was my privilege to have the opportunity to talk to Lorraine about everything from her coaching philosophy to working with Roz to the state of figure skating today. Grab yourself that cup of tea you've been craving and settle in for an absolutely must read interview!:

Q: You're a PSA Master Rated Coach with almost fifty years of experience in your field. What is your coaching philosophy?

A: First and foremost, I want my skaters to enjoy the journey no matter how far it takes them and the passion for skating. I like to develop the skating skills and component mark almost before the technical aspect. To me, to watch a skater just skate with beautiful edges and grace excites me more than a quad jump even though a quad is impressive. The skater should be a package and with all qualities in technique and artistry. Last but not least, parents invest a lot of money in their skater and the skater invests themselves into the coach, therefore it is the coaches responsibility to make sure that the skater gets 100% of the coaches competence and attention.

Q: What keeps you motivated to get out there on the ice?

A: What motivates me to on the ice everyday is a very easy question to answer. First it is my love for the sport and all that is encompasses. Second is coaching students that are willing to put effort into achieving their goals. I love what I call 'sponge students' or those who absorb everything you are teaching them and transferring it to the ice. Skaters that are willing to learn, show constant improvement, and have the proper perspective on the sport and are a pleasure to be associated with.

Q: How did you end up coaching south of the border?

A: My husband and I moved to Merida, Yucatan to retire and believe it or not, there is a nice size mall rink here in Merida. Well, there was no retiring for me when there is a rink in near distance to me.

Feature from the 1984 Olympics that includes footage of Lorraine and Rosalynn working together

Q: I want to continue, of course, by talking about your work coaching and choreographing Rosalynn Sumners. You trained her to win the World Junior title, three U.S. titles, Skate America, the 1983 World title and of course the 1984 Olympic silver medal. What made and makes Rosalynn such a special skater and what can you share about your time working with her that still resonates with you today?

A: Rosalynn is a talented athlete who fell in love with skating and had a burning desire to be the best she could be. We took the journey from beginning to end together. Rosalynn's trust in me as her coach and my belief in her as a skater is what made her a champion. She had a work ethic that no one else had and loved to come in and train everyday. As a young skater, her energy and personality made it very easy to choreograph for her and train her. Her loyalty and trust in me is what is the glue for us still today.

from the January 18, 1984 New York Times article "The Zayak-Sumners Matchup" by Neil Amdur

Q: There was certainly a lot of media coverage at that time that centered around an intense rivalry between Rosalynn and Elaine Zayak. Was it invented or something tangible in your opinion?

A: The media coverage of Elaine and Rosalynn is really what created the rivalry and because of that it made it tangible. I always coached Rosalynn to focus on herself when competing and if she did the job she was capable of, the outcome would be satisfied. We never thought about "we have to beat Elaine", she was just one of many competitors in the competition.

Q: I've always been just jaw on the floor in awe of the choreography that Brian Wright created. You coached him at the Seattle Skating Club and I actually found a quote from a 2003 Seattle Post article where you said "The first time he tried a triple loop, he landed it. The first time he tried a triple toe, he landed it." What made Brian Wright so special as a student and a person?

A: Brian Wright was a very special person on and off the ice. He was extremely gifted in athleticism and just loved to skate for enjoyment and perform. We were very close when he was young and taking from me and we would play all the time to different music and different styles of skating on the ice. He really embraced the idea of being different and exploring. Brian had a great sense of humor and we had many, many laughs. He touched many people and he is sorely missed.

Q: Having obviously spend hundreds of hours teaching both, what are your thoughts on the current IJS system as compared to the 6.0 system? What works and what doesn't?

A: Oh boy... IJS versus 6.0. I now believe the new system has improved the judging of skating but it still has a way to go. The ISU changes rules far too much within the four years between Olympics. I believe if the ISU decides rules after the Olympic year, these rules should stay for four years and not change every year. Small changes my be necessary but every year they change the spin rules and I feel that the skater doesn't have time to develop these new rules every year. I also did not like the footwork rules for a long time because everyone looked the same but choreographers are getting more innovative and are making the footwork a little more interesting.

Q: What can you share about your own skating career?

A: I was born in Calgary, Alberta and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia. I started skating at four years old and Barbara Ann Scott opened our new ice arena when I was four. Kelowna was a small town when I grew up and we only skated six months of the year. My defining moment of skating is when I saw the World Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver. I was twelve years old and I said to my mother, "I am going to coach a World Champion".

Lorraine with other coaches in Mexico

Q: And you did. Of the skaters competing 'at the top' today, who excites you the most to watch?

A: There are so many good skaters today but I just love Tatsuki Machida, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Denis Ten.

Q: What about your three favourite skaters of all time?

A: I have four most favourite skaters. Rosalynn Sumners, Torvill and Dean, Robin Cousins and Janet Lynn. The commonality of these skaters are power, consistency and wonderful performance quality.

Q: What's one thing most people don't know about you?

A: What most people don’t know about me is that I used to be a hurdler in track and a competitive swimmer. Also, I am now becoming a budding artist.

Q: What's the biggest lesson that figure skating has taught you about life?

A: The most valuable lesson figure skating has taught me is to never give up and any to be able to cope with tough life lessons.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":