Frank Carroll, familiar figure skating face, back again


SOCHI, Russia – There was only one time that legendary figure skating coach Frank Carroll considered quitting the sport altogether – way back in 1980.

“After Linda Fratianne lost the Olympic Games in 1980, I thought, ‘I don’t want any part in this sport anymore,’” the 75-year-old Carroll told Sunday. “The next year I had the junior world champion and I remember the president of U.S. Figure Skating saying, ‘Oh, I thought you were going to quit.’ I guess quitting didn’t work out and I’m glad it didn’t.”

Figure skating is glad, too. From Fratianne to Michelle Kwan to Evan Lysacek and now Gracie Gold (with others in between), Carroll has seen skating through generation after generation from the boards, a stoic face and unfettered fatherly presence on the side of the ice.

“He is the most extraordinary coach of our generation,” said Scott Brown, a figure skating coach that works alongside Carroll training Gold. “Everything that he does I want to emulate. I’m fortunate with Gracie that I get to spend all this time with him. He’s the athlete’s coach and the coach’s coach. We can all just aspire to be half as great as him. He is the real deal.”

And he has been for over 30 years, which makes Carroll’s legacy that much more powerful. Friday night he won another Olympic medal, this time as the coach for Denis Ten, who trains with Carroll and Gold in Los Angeles. The Kazakhstan native won a bronze in the men’s singles event after Gold had helped the U.S. to third place in the new team event earlier in the week.

But the fact that Carroll is sticking around for the final few days of these Olympics – the ladies singles event – was not a situation foreseen just six months ago. He and Gold began working together only in September.

“One of the things that I’m known for – god, it sounds like I’m incredibly proud of myself! – is being able to package a skater,” Carroll said, a slight grin on his face. “With Gracie, she was taught extremely well, but I think she had troubles with how to go about competing on an emotional level – putting it all together. I think I have an eye for how to put things together. I basically took a talented girl with good skating skills and tried to make her into a package.”

He’s helping to do the same with Polina Edmunds, the third member of the U.S. ladies team along with Gold and Ashley Wagner, consulting with her coach David Glynn, himself a former Carroll student.

“He’s such a great role model for every young coach,” said Glynn, who trains Edmunds in San Jose. “He’s so willing to offer advice and help; his integrity is wonderful. He wants to help not only the skaters, but the parents and the whole skating community.”

RELATED: Edmunds not skipping out on homework while in Sochi

Helped he has for years and years. Why then, for a man at his age, does Carroll continue to do the work that he does?

“What’s that song from ‘Follies’? ‘I’m Still Here’?” Carroll said, laughing. “It’s sort of like a game to me. It’s like pieces of a puzzle: ‘Can I put this together? Can I get this person to be a real achiever?’ I play games with myself all the time.”

In those short five months, Carroll has helped piece together the 18-year-old Gold, who is considered an outside shot to win a medal in Sochi come Wednesday and Thursday.

Come those nights, Carroll says he will get a little nervous, but not like he used to.

“It’s not electricity anymore, but a little bit of nervousness,” Carroll said. “I’m very used to it all. That intense anxiety has really worn off a lot. I realized what will be will be. By the time Evan won his gold, I wasn’t expecting anything … It was, for me, if the cards worked out right, he was going to win. And he did!”

Yet that was four years ago, when Carroll was already past 70 and – aside from Lysacek – without an American prospect for Sochi. Though Carroll still expected to be here.

“Of course!” He said, smiling. “And if I don’t quit, I expect to be back at the next one, too. I sound like ‘Ol’ Man River’ who just keeps going on. It’s a fun profession to be in and I don’t have any immediate plans to retire.”

Carroll jokes that it’s greed that keeps him on the boards, but it’s obvious he just can’t quit. And hasn’t thought about it since 1980.

RELATED: Gracie faces pressure of living up to her name

“You’re a lifer in skating,” said Brown, who with Carroll and Gold once a month. “If you’re addicted, this is what you’re doing. You go throw the ups and downs, but the ups are so great and they feel so good and make you always wanting more. I think he feels that.”

Carroll’s skaters have felt a variety of things over the years. Frank has become a fixture every four years on TV sets across the U.S. In 1998, an emotional Kwan leaned into his shoulder tight as her scores came in just a touch low, giving Tara Lipinski the window she needed to win. But Frank’s face remained unchanged.

It was Gracie Gold who was having trouble keeping her emotions in check before she came to Frank, working with longtime coach Aleksander Ouriyashev in Chicago. But with Carroll, there are no outbursts, only continuously improving skating skills and know-how.

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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