American figure skater
Brian Boitano transformed professional figure skating by both forcing his fellow skaters to excel in order to match his true technical mastery, as well as by his tireless outside of the rink, becoming one of figure skating's true ambassadors. Boitano captured six world professional titles during his career and has set standards that may never be matched. He is the first American Athlete to have his own network television special, and won an Emmy for his role in Carmen on Ice which aired in 1990. With over 50 titles to his name—including 23 international gold medals, two World titles, two Pro/Am titles, 16 professional titles and four U.S. National titles—Boitano also captured Olympic gold in 1988.
Brian Boitano was born on October 22, 1963, in Mountainview, California. His brother and two sisters were never interested in skating, but young Brian, when he was eight, attended an "Ice Follies" show with his parents and subsequently fell in love with figure skating. With his parents supporting his ambition, he soon had Linda Leaver as a coach, which proved to be a wise choice—Linda has remained Brian's coach and personal manager through the nearly three decades of Brian's ice-skating career. "I thought he'd be great right away," Leaver told Sports Illustrated. "I used to keep charts on every student, with my predictions and expectations for them. Though Boitano was only eight, I went home and told my husband that one day he'd be the world champion."
Leaver was right. After winning nearly twenty regional medals by the time he hit his teens, Boitano captured the U.S. junior men's championship in 1978. As an amateur he competed in the World Figure Skating Championships throughout the early and mid-1980s. Then, in 1986, Brian won his first world title, defeating Canadian skater Brian Orser. That year he also won the United States Senior Men's Championships as well as taking first at the Olympic Festival.
In spite of the phenomenal success, however, Boitano felt his artistry was not up to par with his technical ability, and in 1987 he hired Sandra Bezic to coach him in this area. He introduced his new style in 1988 at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, collecting a fourth men's single title, going on to capture gold in the Winter Olympics (held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada) later that same year and fulfilling a personal goal. He returned to the winter Olympics in 1994, but finished a disappointing sixth.
Champion of the Sport
Boitano would involve others in his pursuits to bring the sport to a new level. Following his Olympic gold he joined Katarina Witt to film a television special that won Brian an Emmy. Throughout the nineties he continued to produce—and often star in—programs for television, including A Skating Romance, and two equally successful sequels. His book, Boitano's Edge: Inside the Real World of Figure Skating, published in 1997, is currently in its third printing and considered by many to be one of the great books on figure skating.
Brian Boitano lives in San Francisco, where he is artistic director of his own company, White Canvas Productions (which he founded in 1995). He spends his time working for the betterment of professional figure skating, as well as working with his Youth Skate program, which provides skating lessons and scholar-ships to local children. He can also be heard occasionally as a skating commentator for PBS and ABC. In February of 2002, Boitano underwent an appendectomy, from which it took him some time to recover. That operation was followed by arthroscopic knee surgery in May of 2002.
|1963||Born October 22, in Mountainview, California|
|1972||Sees the "Ice Follies" when he's 8 and gets hooked on skating. Parents hire Linda Leaver, who remains with him as coach and manager throughout his career|
|1976||Begins winning regional titles|
|1978||Wins the United States Junior Men's Championship|
|1983||Debuts at World Figure Skating Championships and becomes 1st skater to land all six jumps in that competition|
|1984||Finishes fifth in his first Olympics|
|1986||Wins his first world title|
|1987||Hires Sandra Bezic to choreograph new routine for him. This propels him to victory in 1988 at U.S. Figure Skating Championship|
|1988||Turns professional; teams with Katarina Witt to do Carmen on Ice, and Boitano wins an Emmy for his performance|
|1992||Fights to represent the United States in the 1994 Olympics as a professional. Boitano prevails|
|1998||Unable to represent U.S. in Winter Olympics. International Olympic Committee forbids professionals from competing in this year's events|
|1998||Funds "Youth Skate," a San Francisco charity that teaches inner-city kids how to skate|
|2000||Third and final Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular airs|
|2002||Undergoes appendectomy in February and arthroscopic knee surgery in May|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1978||First place, United States Junior Men's Championship|
|1983-84||Second place, Nationals|
|1985-88||First place, Nationals|
|1986, 1988||First place, Worlds|
|1988||Gold Medal, Olympic Games|
|1988||Named Young Italian-American of the Year|
|1988||First place, World Challenge of Champions|
|1988-92, 1994||First place, World Professional Championship|
|1994||First place, U.S. Senior Men's Championship|
|1996||Inducted into U.S. Figure Skating Hall of fame; also inducted into World Fisgure Skating Hall of Fame|
|1999||Receives Gustave Lussi Award from Professional Figure Skaters Association|
|2000||First place, Goodwill Games|
|2000||Named one of major skaters of the century by Blade magazine Boitano has won over 50 titles, including 23 international gold medals, two World titles, two Pro/Am titles, 16 professional titles, four U.S. National titles, as well as an Olympic Gold Medal.|
SELECTED WRITINGS BY BOITANO:
(With Suzanne Harper) Boitano's Edge: Inside the Real World of Figure Skating, Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Boitano, Brian and Suzanne Harper. Boitano's Edge: Inside the Real World of Figure Skating, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
"Brian Boitano." Newsmakers, Issue Cumulation. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Research, 1988.
"Brian Boitano." Sports Stars, Series 1-4. U•X•L, 1994-98.
Chapin, Dwight. "Where Are They Now? Brian Boitano: Nailing the Landing." San Francisco Chronicle (August 18, 2002): B2.
Knoell, D. "A Conversation With Brian Boitano." Blades on Ice (July/August 2002).
Newsweek (February 21, 1994).
People (February 15, 1988; February 19, 1996).
Sports Illustrated (February 16, 1997; January 27, 1988; February 29, 1988).
Swift, E.M. "Brian Boitano: the champion skater of '88 claims he has been forced to the Olympic sidelines by an unfair ruling." Sports Illustrated (February 10, 1992).
Time (February 15, 1988; February 29, 1988).
"Brian Boitano," online biography at The Skating Source. http://www.skatingsource.com/boitano.shtml (January 29, 2003).
"Brian Boitano," http://www.geocities.com/brianboitanofan/Home.html (January 29, 2003).
"Brian Boitano Repository," http://members.tripod.com/~MystiD/ (as of January 29, 2003).
Sketch by Eric Lagergren