Catching Up with Skate Talk Online
December 2018

The brainchild of Jacque Tiegs and Tony Wheeler, Skate Talk Online is a brand new podcast already making waves in the skating community.

Kicking off this season’s ISU Grand Prix Series with a bang, the team has already produced a strong collection of event previews and recaps, as well as interviews with some of the top names and rising stars of the sport

To date, their list of special guests includes:

  • Kevin Aymoz - French Men's Singles International Team Member
  • Daphne Backman - Creator & Editor In Chief of ice-dance.com
  • Ashley Cain & Tim LeDuc - U.S. Pairs' International Team Members
  • Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko - U.S. Ice Dance International Team Members
  • Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson - British Ice Dance International Team Members
  • Timothy Goebel - 2002 U.S. Men's Singles Olympic Bronze Medallist
  • Courtney Hicks - U.S. Ladies' Singles International Team Member
  • Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue - 2018 U.S. Ice Dance Champions
  • Kiira Korpi - Former Finnish Ladies' Singles Champion
  • PJ Kwong - CBC Sports Analyst / Journalist / Event Announcer / STO Previews & Recaps Co - Host
  • Jimmy Ma - U.S. Men's Singles International Team Member
  • Karina Manta & Joe Johnson - U.S. Ice Dance International Team Members
  • Doug Mattis - Respected Coach & Former Champion Men's Singles Skater
  • Elizaveta Tuktamysheva - 2015 European & World Ladies' Champion from Russia

aussieSKATES thought it would be fun to catch up with the pair for this quick profile.

 

 

Jacque skated from the time she can remember.

She could go very fast, backwards and forwards, and do a couple of spins. Jacque also grew up five houses away from Ginny Baxter (a ladies' singles skater who represented the United States at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games, as well as winning bronze at that year’s world championships).

Tony skated throughout university.

His school actually offered figure skating as a credited course, if you can believe that! Tony really just wanted to focus on jumping, which he supposes is odd because he gets so invested in the components side of programs. Back then, there was just something about the thrill of jumping.

He still skates from time to time. But, living on a beach, it’s quite the process to get to the rink.

When he was six years old, Tony was at his great grandmother’s house. The 1993 World Championships happened to be on TV. Oksana Baiul’s win at the event was a vivid memory for him. From that point, he was hooked.

A year later, figure skating blew up to a huge level in the United States. For many years afterwards, there wasn’t a weekend during the season without at least one event on television.

Earlier, Jacque remembers watching the Grenoble Olympics on television with her mom, where Peggy Fleming took gold for the USA.

But, what really got her interested were Michelle Kwan and Rudy Galindo winning the individual titles at the 1996 National Championships. Both athletes in fact moved Jacque to tears. Like Tony, she too became addicted.

Tony has many skaters that he respects. But his absolute favourite would be Maria Butyrskaya. There was something about her style and sense of music that just captivated him. She was also a nervy skater. So, it was always intense and exciting viewing whenever she skated. Skaters that make you feel calm are great. But Butyrskaya always had Tony on the edge of his seat, and he loved it.

Meanwhile, Jacque’s favourites are Jeremy Abbott, Nathan Chen, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Rudy Galindo, Ekaterina Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov, Madison Hubbell & Zach Donohue, Michelle Kwan, Yuka Sato, Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhou, and Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir.

Jacque is quick to add however, that she loves all of the skaters, because of how hard they train.

From the mid to late nineties, Tony used to attend Champions On Ice and Stars On ice. His first competition as a spectator was the 2000 United States National Championships in his hometown of Cleveland.

Throughout the years, Tony has had the opportunity to meet many stars. Now that he is living in Miami, the city is also a very popular tourist destination for skaters during the off-season.

Jacque used to attend Holiday On Ice with her Grandma. She has also been to many small club competitions and shows.

Further still, many of the athletes train in her home town of Detroit. Meaning, Jacque has exclusive access to the top training rinks, and was able to go out and take pictures, too.

When we asked Tony what his most exciting skating-related moment is, he said it was rather odd.

Germany’s Tanja Szewczenko’s had many health issues throughout the years. At the 1997/1998 Champion Series Final (now the Grand Prix), returning from yet another prolonged illness, Tony will never forget the way Tanja was able to deliver her free skate.

This was before Tony started recording every last skating event to VHS, and Tanja's routine stuck in his mind for many years before YouTube was a thing. Dorothy Hamill, who was a commentator at the event, said that it was the greatest performance she had seen. 

Jacque’s strongest memory was Rudy Galindo’s win at the 1996 U.S. National Championships in San Jose.  Skating last, Galindo was in third place after the short program.  Jacque felt he was under-marked, as did the media.  He went out and nailed everything. It was also the first competition she had ever taped.  Jacque watched it so many times, she broke the tape. She still cries after watching that free skate.

Tony loves skaters that really invest the time to understand the music and the concepts of their program. It sounds simple, but there is a lot to think about on the ice, and when they can just let it all out, it is wonderful to see.

Tony also appreciates the technicians of the sport - the skaters that really understand the basics of the blade and have sound technique on their elements. Sometimes, a skater may be having a difficult skate. But, they can still be absolutely captivating because of their belief in what they are doing, and the quality behind the skating itself.

As a serious fan of the sport for twenty-five years, Tony has been involved in many different projects. As a teenager, he was helping out with official websites. Tony also got into consulting with skaters, selecting and editing music for some of them.

A longtime member of the online skating community, Tony has been posting on message boards since he was eleven.

Then in 2010, he created a blog called Flutzing Around.

One of his first articles was an interview with a judge from the men’s event at the Vancouver Olympics. This official had retired just after the games, and he was very candid about what direction the IJS system was going, and some of the problems other judges had with it.

From there, Tony was writing articles on and off for the next three or so seasons.  He eventually focused on his studies and stopped blogging.  But, the urge to be more involved came back in the last few years.  Tony thinks when you grow older, you return to the roots of your passions.

Tony had been yearning to start some form of a skating site for a while.

He wants to expand the YouTube channel into a comprehensive historical website of sorts at some point, and Jacque was also interested in getting involved in a fun project.

Back in 2010 with all of the other bloggers, Tony had the idea to create a round table of sorts YouTube discussion. There were some group e-mails exchanged. But, nothing really came of it.

Other ventures in life got in the way for a while.

But now that he has more free time to enjoy the things he loves, discussions were started to use the wonderful connections he and Jacque have, to create something positive and informative for the skating community.

Tony thinks people forget how difficult the sport is and how hard the skaters work. The athletes have stories to tell, whether they are world champions, or just learning the big elements.

Initial planning started in September. It was originally going to a be a web site and weekly show with other special features. But, the interviews ended up being so fascinating, that STO decided these would be their starting point.

The team utilise their strengths. Jacque is great at social media, setting up interview times, and sending details to skaters that prepare them to chat. Tony learned not only how to interview on screen, but also, how to create and edit videos, too.  It has been a lot of fun.

Interview preparation includes both Tony and Jacque doing thorough research, while trying to come up with or expand on questions that have been asked ad nauseam. STO thinks the skaters have all really appreciated the ground work they’ve done prior to each interview.  For event previews and recaps, Tony takes notes and tries to discuss all of the major points in a quick but sufficient manner. Recaps are relatively easy, because he has watched events in their entirety anyway.

Jacque and Tony’s biggest hope is to come across as informative, fun and educational. Without, the constant negativity or putting down of the athletes. Behind the scenes gossip has an audience. But, it’s not something STO is interested in. There is so much else to enjoy in figure skating.

For now, STO would love viewers to get a fun, relaxed look at the skaters. That is, without asking the standard questions likely to be seen in media releases and competition. In their event recaps, STO will highlight some of the finer points of performances, while ideally, helping people watching to further expand their knowledge of the sport.

This is a passion project, and Jacque and Tony hope other people enjoy it as much as they do while creating content.

Click here to check out Skate Talk Online's YouTube Channel.

 
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