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The long wait has ended for Frank Carroll

10 Olympics in the making, veteran coach gets Olympic champ

After 10 Olympic Games, veteran coach Frank Carroll can finally say he's the coach of an Olympic champion figure skater.
After 10 Olympic Games, veteran coach Frank Carroll can finally say he's the coach of an Olympic champion figure skater. (Getty Images)

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By Amy Rosewater, special to icenetwork.com
(02/19/2010) - Frank Carroll can now take the label off his coaching identity.

He was always known as one of the best coaches who didn't guide a skater to an Olympic gold medal.

He made trip after trip after trip to the Olympic Winter Games, and many times he came close to achieving that goal.

In 1980, Linda Fratianne had to settle for silver in a political battle that ended up with Germany's Anett Pötsch capturing the gold.

The 71-year-old had years of turmoil coaching Christopher Bowman, an extraordinarily talented skater who might have been an Olympic champion if he had had the work ethic.

And then in 1998, he had one of America's most talented skaters ever in Michelle Kwan, yet in Nagano, she skated conservatively and finished runner-up to an electric Tara Lipinski.

In 2002 in Salt Lake City, he guided Timothy Goebel to a bronze-medal performance.

Tonight, in Vancouver, 30 years after the disappointment he suffered with Fratianne, Carroll got to see his skater stand on top of the Olympic podium. Evan Lysacek was the skater to give him that honor.

"I almost can't believe it,'' Carroll, who coaches Lysacek in Southern California said. "He skated so well. It was one of those nights where everything came together."

The Lysacek-Carroll partnership has been one that has withstood injuries, upsets and the highlights of national and world titles. And last summer, when skaters were practically riding a merry-go-round in search of a new coach, Lysacek had absolutely no plans of making any kind of switch.

Lysacek was well aware of Carroll's unlucky streak at the Olympic Games and wanted to win a gold medal for his coach.

"I guess I never let myself think about winning for myself,'' Lysacek said. "But I did a couple of times think about winning for him. When I first heard I won, he was the first person I thought of.''

After Lysacek had skated but before his biggest competitor, Evgeni Plushenko performed, choreographer Lori Nichol was asked about what it would mean if Carroll could become an Olympic gold-medal coach.

Nichol, who has worked with many of Carroll's skaters including Lysacek, was almost speechless. Normally a gregarious woman, Nichol was at a complete loss for words.

"Ooohh,'' she said. "Oh. I don't know, but I would be the happiest woman in the world if this happened for Frank Carroll.''

Lysacek had spent almost all day with Carroll. Throughout the hours leading up to the free skate, it was Carroll who was trying to calm Lysacek's nerves. But he also tried to guard Lysacek about thinking too far ahead or about results.

In the end, Lysacek did what Carroll has seen him do time and again in practice: skate a clean program. This time, however, it was good enough for Olympic gold.

Said Lysacek: "I'd say today was 99 percent him and one percent me.''