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If you like Scott Hamilton's story, you might also like:
Tenley Albright,
John Gearhart,
Dorothy Hamill
and Willie Mays

Scott Hamilton also appears in the video:
Perseverance and the American Dream

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Scott Hamilton in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Amazing Olympic Games

Related Links:
USA Olympic Team
Scott Hamilton Cares Initiative
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Scott Hamilton Interview (page: 3 / 9)

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  Scott Hamilton

What did you do to train and prepare for your successes, starting off with winning the Nationals and then going to the Olympics?

Scott Hamilton: A lot of it is good coaching. A lot of it is just planning ahead, looking at your year, looking at who your competition is, looking at what you need to do to be competitive. It's all a mix and match game, you know.

Say you're up against someone like Robert Wagenhoffer. He's a great skater, amazing jumper, but not so good in figures, so you knew if you got ahead of him in figures, he'll have to catch up to you in the freestyle. David Santee, another great competitor of mine, was good in the freestyle, but occasionally he'd make a mistake or two. You could skate clean, so your goal becomes consistency, plus you needed to stay close to him in the figures -- because he was great at compulsory figures -- in order to pull ahead of him in the freestyle.

There's always a strategy, and that shapes your preparation for the year. Not throwing a rock and roll program at an Eastern European panel. They won't get it. It's all planning ahead, looking at your competitors, looking at your year. Looking at where you're competing, and how you're going to follow through artistically. You set a strategy n May and June so that when you start competing in September and October you're prepared, and the judges find it easy to give you the marks that you want. It changes each year.


You can't show up with the same face. You can't show up with the same shirt. You can't show up with the same music every year because they get bored. And also, the new kid looks even better. So if you break it up every year and make it different so that you're new every year, there's not going to be one of these guys that come in with this kind of a trendy kind of gimmicky program that's going to overshadow you, because you're brand new as well.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation



There's always a lot of strategy involved. And it wasn't just being as good as you can be, or landing the jump every time, or this or that. It was everything. It was looking at the compulsory figures, looking at the competition schedule, looking at the exhibition schedule. Making sure that you had three weeks before every competition to build, so that you're peaking at the event.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation


I was lucky to have a great coach in Don Laws, from 1980 all the way through '84. He was a disciplinarian when I got there, and then he allowed me to discipline myself, which was so important. When they close that door behind you and announce that you're representing the United States it can be frightening, or it can be freeing For me it was, "Shut the door. It's time to skate." I knew that I got there on my own, with his help, instead of, "I got there on his shoulders and now I have to survive the event."

He gave me the confidence and the discipline to do it on my own. By '84 he'd sit by the boards and really wouldn't say too much. It was the best gift he ever gave me. We were prepared, we were ready to go, and everything was done. When it was time to compete, I could do it on my own. I wouldn't look over at the boards and say, "Help me." I'd look over at the boards and say, "Leave me alone, you're making me nervous," and he'd just back up. The communication was flawless.

What was going through your mind when you went undefeated for so long?

Scott Hamilton Interview Photo
Scott Hamilton: At first I didn't really like it very much. I liked doing well at the '80 Olympics. I got the only standing ovation of the night, which was pretty cool. The Olympics in '80 was phenomenal. It was my favorite memory of all competitive events, because it was brand new and it was exciting.

Then when I started winning in '81, it was hard to take. I didn't really feel worthy of the title. It was a hard transition. By '82 I realized if I'm not going to win it somebody I'd beaten before will. I'll be going backwards if I don't keep winning.

So I kept trying to reinvent myself, and I kept trying to look at my competition, see who was really improving and try to stay ahead of them. Brian Boitano was coming up at the time, Brian Orser was coming up at the time. They all had the tougher jump, but they were still in their development stages. So I knew I could hold them off for a couple of more years.


For many years I skated angry, you know, I had the chip on my shoulder. And like most young people I was like, 'Well, I'm going to show them." The "they" thing. "They don't like me," or "They don't want to put me up there," or they, they, they. There's a lot thems and theys out there. Nobody can identify them. Who are they? But it's a paranoia thing and it's that chip that, you know, they're holding you back, or nobody understands. Every kid goes through that. So you kind of approach things with anger and intensity, and I did for many years. And then after I got kind of comfortable with things, I just realized that what I needed to do was be smart.


Look at the people that are judging you. Look at the audience and what they would like to see. Those are the theys and the thems. !


The best thing that can happen to you as a competitive figure skater is to get robbed at a competition. The best thing. It's money in the bank. They owe you and they know it. And if you don't rub their nose in it, if you forgive them and allow things to kind of smooth out, you'll be so much better off, you know. Don't be in people's faces as a skater. Let them know that they made a mistake, without being, you know, upset, or mad or angry. And it's money in the bank. Sooner or later everything kind of evens out, all debts are paid.


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This page last revised on Mar 25, 2009 11:40 EDT
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