Frank Carroll dies at 85; figure skating coach led Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek to stardom

By Dave Skretta | Associated Press

Longtime figure skating coach Frank Carroll, who over the course of a 60-year career helped guide six Olympic medalists at 10 Winter Games, including Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek, died Sunday. He was 85.

U.S. Figure Skating, with whom Carroll worked for decades, said in a statement that he had died after “a battle with cancer.”

“Frank was everything I could have hoped for in a coach and more,” Kwan said in a post on social media. “He was never short on words, always providing feedback with a mix of directness, love and unwavering support.”

With a sharp wit and even sharper sense of humor, Carroll was instrumental in the success of not just Kwan and Lysacek but a number of American stars, such as Linda Fratianne, Christopher Bowman, Timothy Goebel and Gracie Gold.

Carroll retired from coaching in August 2018, not long after his 80th birthday.

“Frank’s sense of humor was a gift, especially on those tough lesson days when things just wouldn’t click,” said Kwan, who won the silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. “His parting words, ‘I’ve done my duty for God and my country,’” followed by a dramatic exit as he skated away, never failed to make us all laugh.”

Carroll, the younger of two children, was born July 11, 1938, to a shop teacher father and city clerk mother. He was inspired by two-time Olympic champion Dick Button to learn to skate on the frozen ponds near his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, and later attended Holy Cross, where he graduated in 1960 with a degree in sociology.

Yet it was on the ice where Carroll showed such a brilliant ability to absorb, and pass along, his vast knowledge. Much of it was gleaned from his own first coach, Maribel Vinson-Owen, the two-time world medalist and 1932 Olympic bronze medalist.

“She taught me great discipline, about being on time, always showing up, never backing out, not saying, ‘Oh, I don’t feel well today,’” Carroll recalled later in life. “You go to the rink and you never complain about the ice.”

Carroll won a junior bronze medal at the U.S. championships before turning professional and skating with Ice Follies, a popular touring show at the time that featured elaborate productions. Carroll also dabbled in acting before getting into coaching, despite having been accepted into the law school at the University of San Francisco.

His first big stars were Mark Cockerell, the 1976 world junior champion, and Fratianne, who won senior titles in 1977 and ’79. But it was Kwan, the effervescent daughter of Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong, who launched Carroll to stardom in his own right. She would win five world championships along with her two Olympic medals and become a media darling.

“I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been one of the lucky ones to work with him,” she said.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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