Timothy Goebel

Catching up with Tim Goebel

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Tim Goebel, the “Quad King,” is still keen on figure skating, knowledgeable and opinionated.

It’s been 12 years since he thrilled the home crowd in Salt Lake City, throwing three quadruple jumps in his free skate en route to a bronze medal.

Goebel graduated from Columbia University after he retired in 2006, worked for Nielsen, the ratings company, and is now back in New York City keeping busy on and off the ice.

OlympicTalk recently caught up with Goebel to reflect on his career and the current state of figure skating.

OlympicTalk: What are you doing now?

Goebel: I’m working for an ad agency called MEC, doing consumer analysis. I moved back to New York City in August.

I’m still coaching a little bit, still trying to stay involved in skating. I definitely want to give back to the sport however I can. It did so much to enrich my life. I’m trying to pass that along to the next generation.

OlympicTalk: What did you think of the men’s competition in Sochi?

Goebel: I think with the new format, the team event coming first, I think everyone was at a disadvantage with not having a day off between the short and the long programs. As the performances showed, especially with the men, that’s really critical. No matter how well prepared the athletes are, you need the mental recovery of the day off in between, especially when so many of the top people did the team event first.

I like the idea of the team event, but I think the way it was executed [coming before the individual events] was not necessarily the best for the athletes.

OlympicTalk: Who was your favorite skater to compete against?

Goebel: [Aleksey] Yagudin and [Yevgeny] Plushenko. Really, for the year before Salt Lake City and then into the Olympic year, we were always pretty much grouped right at the top. It was exciting because we pushed each other to be better.

It’s been 12 years since Salt Lake City and people are just now starting to do at the Olympics what we did in 2002. It took a long time for the next generation to implement the quads into the new judging system.

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OlympicTalk: What impresses you the most about Plushenko?

Goebel: The most amazing thing about him is he has been near the top of the sport for so long. It’s really remarkable that he was able to come back and train and compete at 31. There’s no way I could see myself physically be able to train like that. No one from our group would even consider it. Me and Yagudin, there was no way we were coming back.

To be doing the really hard technical stuff for that long is kind of a miracle. I can’t believe he can still do that.

OlympicTalk: Did you ever have thoughts about coming back after you retired in 2006?

Goebel: None at all. When I retired, I knew going into 2006 it was going to be my last competitive season, whatever happened. As much as I really loved competing and loved skating, I knew it was time to go on and do something else. I had always wanted to go back to school. I didn’t want to delay that any longer. I wanted to go and have a normal life, so to speak, after skating.

OlympicTalk: What changes would you like to see in the sport between now and the next Olympics?

Goebel: The biggest thing is the transparency in the judging. I think the anonymous judging — good, bad or indifferent — there’s a perception that there’s something happening behind the scenes. I think transparency is paramount if people are not going to constantly question the results.

Even in Sochi, with the Russian girl [Adelina Sotnikova] winning. Immediately, it was a scandal because it was in Russia, and she hadn’t had the best international season.

Jeremy Abbott reconsiders retirement

Olympian Tasha Schwikert says she is a Larry Nassar survivor, speaks out on Steve Penny

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Tasha Schwikert is at least the ninth Olympian to come forward as a Larry Nassar survivor.

“After months of grappling with the decision, I have decided to come forward as a victim of Larry Nassar,” was tweeted from the 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Schwikert’s account. “I want to join my former teammates and fellow survivors to help enact REAL change at @USAGym and @TeamUSA. #MeToo.

“I refuse to remain a victim. It is time for @USAGym and @TeamUSA to come clean and be held accountable for the toxic environment that enabled Nassar’s abuse. Only then will we see REAL change.”

Schwikert, now 33, was the youngest woman on the 2000 Olympic team across all sports, the U.S. all-around champion in 2001 and 2002, the 2003 World champion team captain and an alternate for the 2004 Olympic team.

Schwikert also said that ex-USA Gymnastics president and CEO Steve Penny pressed her to publicly support USA Gymnastics at the height of the Nassar scandal, according to ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

Penny was arrested Wednesday and indicted on charges he tampered with evidence in the Nassar sexual-assault investigation and on Thursday banned for life from USA Gymnastics. Penny’s lawyers said he is “confident that when all the facts are known it will be shown that he did nothing criminal.”

“Steve had always manipulated all of us, really, but I felt indebted to him,” Schwikert said on ABC. “Him and USA Gymnastics made me feel like if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person or the athlete who I was.”

She is at least the second member of the Sydney 2000 team to come forward as a Nassar survivor, joining Jamie Dantzscher, the first Olympian to do so in February 2017.

USA Gymnastics posted a statement from Schwikert on social media the night Dantzscher’s first interview aired, saying, “As a member of the national team from 1999-2004, I firmly believe USA Gymnastics always had my health and well-being top of mind. The program provided me with the resources and experiences that helped me achieve my goals.”

Penny resigned a month later.

Seven of the eight members of the 2012 or 2016 Olympic women’s artistic gymnastics teams have also come forward — Simone BilesGabby Douglas, Aly RaismanMcKayla MaroneyJordyn WieberKyla Ross and Madison Kocian. As have world championships team members among the hundreds of girls and women who said Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Madison Hubbell, Zach Donohue can make it 10 straight at Skate America

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If Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue ever lacked motivation in the post-Olympic summer, they needed only scan their Montreal training ice.

They would spot France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, the only ice dancers from the Olympic podium who return this season. Papadakis and Cizeron relegated the Americans to silver at March’s world championships, one month after Hubbell and Donohue were fourth in PyeongChang (the French took silver). They have trained under the same coaches in Quebec for three years.

They would also see Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, the third- and fourth-place finishers from January’s U.S. Championships. Those couples moved to the Montreal group in the spring. They are Hubbell and Donohue’s top threats to repeat as national champions in Detroit in three months, given U.S. silver medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are also taking a break.

Practicing next to rivals is often shunned in sports. It has elevated ice dance the last several years.

Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White trained together in Michigan and split the Olympic gold and silver medals in 2010 and 2014.

When Virtue and Moir returned from a two-year break in 2016, they joined the Montreal group and went one-two with training partners Papadakis and Cizeron at every major competition through PyeongChang.

Hubbell and Donohue thrived last season, their third in Montreal, winning their first national title after six straight years of finishing third or fourth. They were in position for an Olympic medal, third after the short dance, but Donohue fell in the free dance (as he did at 2017 Worlds after they were third in the short).

Then at worlds in March, they delivered back-to-back podium-worthy performances on the global stage for the first time for that silver medal. They are the world No. 2 and the favorites at this weekend’s Skate America, with the French not in the field.

U.S. couples have won nine straight Skate Americas, more than the other three disciplines combined in the last decade.

MORE: Skate America TV/Stream Schedule

“Clearly this formula is working for them,” NBC Sports analyst and 2006 Olympic ice dance silver medalist Tanith White said. “It has proven to work for many of the greatest teams in ice dance over the last few decades. … I cannot see a drawback.”

Hubbell and Donohue (and Papadakis and Cizeron) appear to agree.

They joked back and forth at a press conference after worlds in March. Asked how they would spend the offseason, Cizeron looked straight at Hubbell and Donohue and said, jokingly, “Our goal is to get drunk together as many times as we can.”

“As much as our own personal accomplishment is pretty incredible, being on the podium with training mates and having, literally, everyone from our training center skate the best programs of their season, all at the same competition, was pretty incredible,” Donohue said last week.

Hubbell and Donohue should breeze through Skate America in Everett, Wash. Nobody else from the top nine in PyeongChang is in the field. They’re the favorites next week at Skate Canada, too.

The first real test will be at December’s Grand Prix Final, where Papadakis and Cizeron should join them. Hubbell and Donohue never outscored the French in nine head-to-head competitions and were more than 10 points adrift at worlds.

“The French, where they left off last season, I think that they are still in a category on their own based on the last time we saw those two teams go up against each other,” White said. 

Hubbell said the world silver medal showed that they had tackled their demons, fear and history of errors. If the next goal is gold, they must conquer a much more visible foe, one they see every day on the ice.

“The podium at worlds,” Hubbell said, “was the moment I was able to leave that season behind me and go into the future.”

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