Sports

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

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 closely for decades, announced his death. It said Carroll died Sunday “after a battle with cancer.”

With a sharp wit and even sharper sense of humor, Carroll was instrumental in the success of American standouts such as Kwan, Lysacek and Linda Fratianne. He retired from coaching in August 2018, not long after his 80th birthday.

“He changed the lives of every skater and parent he came across,” Kwan said at the time.

Carroll, the younger of two children, was born on 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 would win world senior titles in 1977 and '79. But it was Kwan, the daughter of Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong, who launched Carroll to stardom in his own right. She would win five world championships along with silver and bronze medals at the Winter Olympics.

Carroll also coached Tim Goebel, Gracie Gold and Denis Ten to Olympic medals. His lone champion was Lysacek, whose stirring free skate at the 2010 Vancouver Games was enough to beat out Russia's Evgeni Plushenko for the gold medal.

Lysacek honored his coach afterward with the Order of Ikkos medal from the U.S. Olympic Committee, which is designed to be a symbol of excellence in coaching as represented by an athlete's achievement as an Olympic medalist.

“He made me believe that I could skate perfectly in the Olympics,” Lysacek said after the 2010 Games. “When I first heard the results, he was the first person I thought about. ... He owns just as much or more of my Olympic gold medal as I do.”

Carroll was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1996 and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2007.

Funeral arrangements were not available, but donations can be made in Carroll's honor to the Memorial Fund. It was created after the 1961 crash of a flight from New York to Brussels, Belgium, that killed the entire U.S. figure skating team on its way to the world championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Many of Carroll's friends and coaches were aboard the plane.

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AP Olympics https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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