Current Olympian, 2006 U.S. champ You feel it when you're a little off in the
air, and it's like: Uh-oh. When you fall you hear that "ohhhhhh" from
the crowd, then a big hush. Which is how you feel inside, times a thousand.
When you get up you've lost a couple of seconds. The programs are jam-packed:
You have to hold the spins for a certain amount of revolutions, hold your
position on the spirals. There's nowhere to make up the time. The toll is more
than falling on the jump. You'll lose points somewhere else, too; you're going
to be late for something--you choose what.
1998 Olympic gold medalist I fell on a triple flip at Nationals in 1998. I'd
already landed my hardest jump, the triple Lutz, and I was feeling great. Then
my edge slipped out on the landing of the triple flip, or maybe I jumped too
big. I couldn't believe it. I was thinking, This has to be a joke. Oh, my God!
I'm not going to make the Olympic team! I never liked the triple flip after
that, which is why I was so happy to land it a month later at the Olympics.
PAUL WYLIE, 1992
Olympic silver medalist and, with partner Dana Graham, 1980 U.S. junior pairs
national champion One time in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, I was at a competition where
the audience actually laughed when someone fell. It was customary. And
absolutely humiliating. Falling is much more painful to the ego than anything
else. Nowadays the crowd is into clapping encouragingly after you fall, trying
to get you to forget about it. But it's a little like when they tap hockey
sticks on the ice after an injury. You know the second your bottom hits the ice
on the combination jump in the short program your season's pretty much over. In
pairs in Paris in 1980 I was doing a lift, and when I put [Dana] down, her toe
picks dug into the ice. She pitched onto her knees, and I fell on top of her.
We were skating to the song Somewhere from West Side Story, and after a fall
you can lose your place in the program. As we were getting up, Dana asked,
"Where are we?" "In France," I said.
1988 Olympic gold medalist It's like time stands still. It's almost surreal,
like it's not happening to you. I used to fall when I practiced my quad jumps,
always hitting the same spot--the right hipbone. Some guys would fall there so
often that they would develop blood blisters and start wearing padded pants for
protection. I didn't like wearing them because they threw my timing off, so I
stuffed foam rubber in my pants, the kind they use in furniture cushions. I'd
hold it in place with an Ace bandage. I didn't do that in competition, but I
have noticed that Japan's Fumie Suguri does. I can see the padding beneath her
MATT SAVOIE, 2006
Olympian and U.S. bronze medalist, who fell in both the short and long programs
at Nationals this year You can't let yourself fall twice. That's what you're
thinking. You never start your music over in practice after you fall, because
you can't stop it in competition. You have to complete the rest of your
1992 Olympic gold medalist and, with Rudy Galindo, two-time U.S. pairs champ
Hearing the audience gasp is much more nerve-racking than the fall itself.
After you fall, a sort of panic creeps into your mind. Scott Hamilton used to
say the next jump after a fall is the hardest one. You're trying to get back
your confidence. With pairs you feel less in control when you fall. In practice
once, Rudy lost his footing while doing a platter lift. He was holding me over
his head, and I went head-first toward the ice, which is pretty scary from
eight or nine feet high. Ice is unforgiving. You learn early on in pairs that
when one of you falls, you both messed up. You have to take equal