Secrets of Skating


Olympic champion Oksana Baiul reveals, in her own words, the principles, techniques, and philosophy that make up this immensely popular sport. New photography taken especially for the book gives readers an unprecedented, up-close look at how a triple lutz is really completed, how a professional ice show comes together, how a costume is created, and all the rigors and pain of training and Olympic competition. Readers learn first-hand what it takes to excel in the world of competitive figure skating - from coping ...
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Olympic champion Oksana Baiul reveals, in her own words, the principles, techniques, and philosophy that make up this immensely popular sport. New photography taken especially for the book gives readers an unprecedented, up-close look at how a triple lutz is really completed, how a professional ice show comes together, how a costume is created, and all the rigors and pain of training and Olympic competition. Readers learn first-hand what it takes to excel in the world of competitive figure skating - from coping with injuries to choosing the right music to choreographing a winning number.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
This book combines a look into the world of competitive skating and a small glimpse at the life of one of today's leading figure skaters, Oksana Baiul. Baiul narrates, briefly describing her childhood, her competitions (including winning the Olympic Gold Medal), technical aspects of skating, and what it takes to master the sport. Stunning photography can be found on every page, with the accompanying text varying in size, type, and style. While the variety of text provides a respite from Baiul's dronings, the book is without substance. Most disappointing was the manner in which Baiul led readers to believe that her car accident was a result of overwork. Newswire accounts of that accident reported that Baiul was drinking and driving, underage.
School Library Journal
YAA treat for anyone who follows figure skating. Sweet gives readers a close look at the philosophy and personality of an individual performer but introduces many other skaters. This account of the career of Oksana Baiul, a gold medalist in the 1994 Olympics at Lillehamer, is formatted in a design that is as sweeping, colorful, and risky as its subject's performance. Occasionally, the photos seem fuzzy and the text, on busy backgrounds, hard to read, but the presentation suits the dashing style of the narrative. It is rich in quotations and photographs of contemporary skating starsVictor Petrenko, Michelle Kwan, Brian Boitano, Tara Lipinski, and others. The foreword is written by Dorothy Hamill. Within the glamour action shots and the flashy format are the details of Baiul's early life in Ukraine and insights into the rigors of Olympic competition. The author also conveys the flash, dash, and camaraderie of the professional life. In addition, there is a technical portion that defines and diagrams a variety of spins and jumps. This is a book that delivers.Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789301048
  • Publisher: Universe Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/20/1997
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, January 27th, on AOL welcomed Oksana Baiul. Oksana Baiul is one of the most accomplished and celebrated female figure skaters of our time. In 1993 she won the World Championship medal. She then went on to beat Nancy Kerrigan for the 1994 Olympic gold medal. Her new book is SECRETS OF SKATING.

JainBN: Oksana, thanks so much for joining us this evening. We have many audience if you're all set?

Oksana Baiul: I'm happy to be here. Yes, I'm ready.

Question: How do you choreograph your programs? Are you heavily involved in setting up the program?

Oksana Baiul: No, I have a choreographer, and I like to work with a lot of people. I have a lot of choreographers. They're all giving me rather different styles, and I can learn from all the different choreographers a lot.

Question: What do you think is at the heart of the appeal figure skating has for spectators? Do you have a theory as to why more women seem interested in skating than men?

Oksana Baiul: Hmm.... That's a tough one. Hmm. Well, it's such a beautiful sport. You know, I'm on tour right now, with Champions on Ice. We have a lot of people coming into the show, with their families and kids, and they just love it, because it's so beautiful, skating together. And that's why. I find it so beautiful -- it's a beautiful sport, you know.

Question: Oksana, I just love your new "Jazz" program!!!! What is the best way to break in new skate boots?

Oksana Baiul: [laughs] Oh my God. I have no clue! I just skate in them. That's the only way I know. I hate to break in my own skates, but that's what I have to do every year.

Question: What is the most exhilarating part of skating?

Oksana Baiul: Hmm. I guess being an actress. I like to go on the ice, and I like to, let's say, in the show, I'm doing two numbers. The first might be about love, and the second might be a completely different number, and you have to be a totally different person. And I guess I just love that part, transforming from one person to another. Just like an actress. I like that.

Question: How does a skater handle the criticism that announcers have for every skater that hits the ice? I find their commentary really arrogant sometimes.

Oksana Baiul: [laughs] Well, you know what? For me, I'm not watching myself. That's the problem. [laughs] For me, I'm not trying to listen to what they say, because that's just their job, that's what they have to say. So for me, I'm listening to my fans. To my crowd, that's who I'm listening to.

Question: What, in your opinion, is the hardest jump to accomplish?

Oksana Baiul: For me? Double Axel. I think.

Question: Why did you decide to write SECRETS OF SKATING?

Oksana Baiul: Well, because I think people really wanted to find out more about me -- about my tasks, my life, about what I'm doing with my life. That's why I wrote that book, and to explain -- right now I'm a professional, and I used to be an amateur -- and most people, they have no idea what it's about. But there's two different levels, I guess, professional and amateur, and I wanted to explain that to my readers.

Question: How do you concentrate during difficult moves?

Oksana Baiul: Well, actually, what I'm doing, I'm trying to concentrate on my number. I'm trying to concentrate on this whole program. Not on one thing here, and one thing there. And if I fall, so what? It's all about the whole picture, not about jumping or doing one trick or another. It's about the whole number.

Question: Oksana, Adam here. What are some of your interests outside of skating?

Oksana Baiul: All right...I like to do embroidery a lot, I like to go out, I'm a great cook -- great cook -- and I also have a lot of stuffed animals -- toys, whatever.

Question: How do you feel about the upcoming event with Harding and Kerrigan, and are you friends with either?

Oksana Baiul: I do know them, actually, very well. Right now, Nancy is skating with me, on the Champions on Ice tour, and we're very good friends. All that stuff about us not being friends, well, back then, I didn't even speak English. So a lot of that wasn't true. And all that stuff between her and Tonya, well, that's between them. I'm friends with them both. And I'm not trying to get between them. The interview, well, from what I know about that show, I feel good about that. But it's not my deal.

Question: Oksana, there is no question you are probably the greatest artistic skater of our time. How did it feel to win the gold?

Oksana Baiul: Felt great. I was proud of myself.

Question: What was it like working with Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, and Brian Boitano during the Ice Fishing 1995 tour?

Oksana Baiul: [laughs] Well, it was great -- it was a great experience, we had a lot of fun when we used to work together. It was great.

Question: What made you to decide to go pro? (And I really have loved seeing you do so well lately!! It's great to see the old Oksana back!!!)

Oksana Baiul: I guess, I have no clue, because, you know, I won the gold, right? And there was nothing else for me to do as an amateur, and I needed something different to do. That's why I went pro.

Question: I heard that you've grown five inches since the 1994 Olympics. Is that an impediment to skating at all?

Oksana Baiul: Yeah, it was. Well, it was harder, because, you know, you have to deal with a new body, and that's what happened to me. When you do grow up, what happens is your weight starts changing, and it becomes harder to jump. So I had to find that balance, between being 5 feet and 5 feet 4 inches, and that's what happened to me.

Question: I'd like to ask Oksana how long she works on a program before she feels it's ready for a show/competition.

Oksana Baiul: Let's say, me and my choreographer, we put together a program for ten days, and then I train on that program for a month, month and a half, before I perform that program. But I change things; I'm not like a robot. I try to change my speed, change my jumps -- it gets so boring doing the same thing over and over again. So I try to change it up, so as not to be bored.

Question: Does it ever bother you that the dancing aspect of skating is often overlooked in favor of how high skaters can jump?

Oksana Baiul: Well, you know what? It's not scary to me at all, because I think it really doesn't matter how high you can jump. I think the really important part is how you perform on the ice, and how you put those jumps into the program.

Question: What's a day in the life of Oksana Baiul like?

Oksana Baiul: It depends, because we have to travel a lot, especially when we're on tour, so you know, sometimes the show is at 11:00, and sometimes we get back to the hotel at 4am, and then sleep in until noon, and then we'll have to get to another show, and so I drink a lot of coffee. Then I have to do my hair, and costumes, and then do my show. So that's a day in the life on tour.

Question: What is the camaraderie like on the ice among the Olympic women [skaters]? Are there ever any catfights?

Oksana Baiul: No. No. Because we're trying to keep everything nice and calm and quiet. I'm not ever trying to fight with anybody, because I'm losing my good energy if I do that. I don't think anybody really fights. There's a lot of different personalities, so there's some differences, but soon it becomes like a big family.

Question: Was there ever a point in your career when you didn't want to skate anymore? How did you cope?

Oksana Baiul: Actually, what happened, I tried to quit a couple of times. Twice in my life. Once when my mom passed away, and my coach went to Canada, and I had nobody around, and I thought, OK, that's enough. I really wanted to be a normal teenager then, and quit. But I didn't. The second time was after my car accident. I thought, OK, I'll try to go to college, or I'll be a makeup artist. But it didn't happen. Because I was always at home by myself, and I got so many letters, all alone in my house, saying "We want you back, Oksana," and I just started crying. And there were two voices in me, and one was saying go back, and the other was saying no, you quit, you can't go back. And, well, now I'm here. It's my life. I'm a skater.

Question: Can you tell us a bit about your relationship between you and your longtime Olympic coach?

Oksana Baiul: The lady who used to be my coach, I'm not working with her anymore, but we're still friends.

Question: Which do you prefer, the long or short program?

Oksana Baiul: When I was an amateur, I liked them both. I didn't prefer my short or my long; I liked them both.

Question: What's the best advice you can give to young, aspiring skaters?

Oksana Baiul: Hmm. I guess, to go on the ice and be happy out there. Be proud of themselves. That's what they have to do. Feel great when they're skating.

Question: I think you are wonderful! How is your relationship with Victor Petrenko, and are you going out on a book-signing tour?

Oksana Baiul: Well, actually, I'm not doing a book-signing tour, because I'm already on tour -- a skating tour -- so I do some signing on this tour. But Victor, he's a great friend. He supports me, gives me high fives on the ice, helps me out. I like him a lot!! He's my friend.

Question: Do you remember the first time you set foot on an ice rink?

Oksana Baiul: Nope. [laughs] It was a long time ago. No. But my mom told me I was really good. But what else is she going to say? [laughs]

Question: When you were younger, what was it like to train to be an Olympic star?

Oksana Baiul: Well, I was working, working, working. That's what I used to do. I used to work and work and work. Skate and skate and skate. But I really wasn't skating to be a star or an Olympic champion. I was just thinking, well, I have to skate because I really love to skate. That's how I was training. That's what I was doing.

Question: I'm curious, do you ever miss Russia? Do you go back often?

Oksana Baiul: Actually, I don't, because I really don't have anybody up there, just two friends -- two girls -- and just two summers ago they were here in America, visiting me. So I'm not going to go back there. I enjoy being in America! Sitting here, and talking to you!

Question: What does the future hold for you on the ice rink? Do you ever think about exploring career opportunities elsewhere?

Oksana Baiul: I guess I'll have ten kids, a huge family. I hope so. That's what I'm thinking of doing. And, what else? I think I'll be a good coach. That's what I will do. Then I will teach my kids how to skate.

Question: Are you involved in the designing process of your costumes at all? What do you look for in a costume? Do you have an all-time favorite?

Oksana Baiul: Actually, to make a costume, it's a very important part, because for me, it has to fit for your body, your movements. I'm actually working very closely with the woman who makes my costumes. I tell her what I like, what I want. I work very closely with her.

Question: Do you have favorite skater in mind for this year's winter Olympics?

Oksana Baiul: Hmm. No, I like them all. Because I don't like to have some favorite skaters, because I think they all work very hard, for the upcoming Olympics, so I feel very, very proud of all of them. I don't want to judge them. I just want to feel very proud of all of them. That's what I will do.

Question: I heard Michelle Kwan say that skaters' feet can get really messed up. Does this happen to you? What do you do to keep them healthy?

Oksana Baiul: Well, you know what? Sometimes, I mean, I do have a problem with my back, because I was born with one vertebra missing. So I do have a problem, and I have a physical trainer on tour. She's working with me a lot, doing a lot of massages, chiropractic. But we're all having problems. Let's say Michelle with her leg, me with my back; I guess Nancy has a problem with her foot right now. But that's the life, I guess.

Question: Do you have any good-luck charms you keep near you when you compete?

Oksana Baiul: I do have a cross, actually. My mom gave it to me. And I'm wearing that cross all the time. When I'm sleeping, when I'm eating, when I'm working -- I wear it all the time.

Question: Hello Oksana, just wanted to say hi and to let you know I am a huge fan of yours. I've seen you skate twice in person, and I also loved the "Wizard of Oz" production on ice that you took part in. Will you do more TV and maybe a movie?

Oksana Baiul: Thank you. No, I don't think so, because I'm way too busy with my skating right now. I don't have any time; it's just skating, skating, skating.

Question: Why did you choose the Swan? Was it because of her metamorphosis from child to adult?

Oksana Baiul: No, because I think my coach, Galena, chose that music for me, and because my mom, she always wanted for me to be a ballet dancer. And Galena said, why don't we try to combine ballet with the ice? So that's why we chose that music.

Question: I know you were under a lot of pressure during the world professional figure skating championships, but why did you walk away from the TV reporter when she tried to question you?

Oksana Baiul: Because I really didn't want to talk. There was like nothing to say, you know? I said everything by my performance on the ice. So there was nothing left to say.

JainBN: This will be our last question for Ms. Baiul this evening.

Question: What's the hardest lesson you've learned as skater/dancer?

Oksana Baiul: As a skater...whew! I guess the hardest lesson to me was to go out there and not put a lot of pressure on my shoulders, because that's what I used to do, and just enjoy myself. Because I used to try to do a perfect program. And I'd be so critical of myself. And now, for me, I try to go out there now and just be who I am. And enjoy myself. And that's been my hardest lesson from my skating.

JainBN: Oksana, thanks so much for joining us tonight. It's been such a treat to have an Olympian with us. Please come again!

Oksana Baiul: Thank you very much!

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