Catching up with Paul Wylie

Paul Wylie

Paul Wylie‘s silver medal at the 1992 Olympics was seen as stunning for a skater who had never finished higher than ninth at a World Championships, but his place at the Winter Games to begin with raised some eyebrows, too.

Wylie, then 27, finished second, barely, over the younger Mark Mitchell at the U.S. Championships one month before the Albertville Olympics. Three men would be selected for the Olympic Team, but U.S. Figure Skating had leeway to veer from taking the top three finishers at nationals.

One of the chosen ones was Todd Eldredge, the 1990 and 1991 U.S. champion who was unable to compete at the U.S. Championships but would be healthy for the Olympics. The second spot was wrapped up by the enigmatic Christopher Bowman, “Bowman the Showman,” who won the U.S. title in Orlando.

Wylie’s free skate was called “sloppy” by the Hartford Courant, and he received “charitable” judges scores, according to The Associated Press. Wylie himself, after skating first of the top five contenders, was changing into street clothes and preparing his retirement speech when he learned that he finished second, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A U.S. Figure Skating committee ticketed Wylie for Albertville over Mitchell, though it gave Mitchell the nod for the post-Olympics World Championships.

But Wylie proved himself in Albertville, bringing the Olympic Ice Hall crowd to its feet with his free skate to finish below only Viktor Petrenko. Wylie went onto professional skating after Albertville and is still involved in the sport.

OlympicTalk recently caught up with Wylie to reflect on his career and discuss what he’s doing today:

OlympicTalk: What’s something about the 1992 Olympics that would surprise a young figure skating fan?

Wylie: I had never been higher than ninth in the world, and I got second at the Olympics. It was amazing for me as a person, but in our sport that the IJS system wasn’t around, it was really kind of unheard of to make that leap [referencing today’s judging system that replaced the 6.0 format after the 2002 Olympics]. I always think that was a pretty important Olympics in that sense because there was an importance to breaking that mold.

Catching up with: Blaine WilsonSasha Cohen | Tim Goebel | Bernard ‘Hollywood’ Williams | Dara Torres 

OlympicTalk: 1992 gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi has said she’s never returned to Albertville since the Olympics. Have you?

Wylie: No. I’ve wanted to go back. We’ve been talking about doing it as a 20th anniversary, so maybe a 25th now. I think it would be us in a little restaurant on the side of the road with a little candle [joking] . We went skiing after the Olympics in Meribel and Courchevel, and it was outstanding. I had a lot of fun there.

OlympicTalk: Did you ever think about returning to amateur competition after the 1992 Olympics?

Wylie: No. I was 27 by the time I retired from amateur skating, and then I was enjoying my professional career and making money. I was still able to compete. I competed 12 times a year as a professional with people who were my peers — Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning and Brian Boitano. It was so much fun on the other side of that. I think skaters today miss out on that opportunity.

OlympicTalk: Who was your favorite skater to compete against?

Wylie: I really enjoyed Christopher Bowman. We kind of grew up together. I miss him terribly to this day [Bowman died of an accidental drug overdose at age 40 in 2008]. Just a really fun guy to hang out with. He just kind of disappeared. It’s sad.

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

Wylie: I think everyone was kind of disappointed in the free skate. The guys were trying so hard to put two quads into their programs. There’s just so much pressure at the Olympic level. I was glad that many of them performed well in the short program [laughs].

I would say the team event was an interesting dynamic because I think a lot of people put their best performances out there in that. You come to the Olympics, and you’ve dreamed about it, and then all of a sudden you’re on the ice. To sustain that type of energy was a bit of a challenge for skaters like Patrick [Chan] and Yuzuru [Hanyu].

OlympicTalk: What are you doing today?

Wylie: I’m coaching, doing [figure skating] seminars and skating, too, and working with people in health and wellness. I’m based in Charlotte.

OlympicTalk: Why is it important to stay involved in skating?

Wylie: It just seems that happens naturally. You just keep getting roped back into it, whether it’s somebody asking for help with their student or a skater who wants choreography or a club that would like to have a seminar. Even in the health and wellness field, I feel like there’s such a good tie-in with skating.

Catching up with: Jackie Joyner-Kersee | Klete Keller | Toby Dawson | Shawn Johnson

Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!