Champions On Ice

KidsBooks, 1994

At the 1988 Winter Olympics, in what is now called the "Battle of the Brians," Brian Boitano and his Canadian competitor, Brian Orser, fought it out for the gold medal using some pretty fancy footwork. Both had been the favorites to win the men's figure-skating event, and, as expected, competition between the two was very close. But Boitano was in first-place going into the final round of skating.

In his four-minute performance, dressed in a blue soldier's uniform, Boitano skated to the booming music from the movie Napoleon. Although Boitano put people on the edge of their seats, Orser's skating seemed equally thrilling. No one was sure of the outcome, not until the judges revealed their scores and the numbers were added. It was Boitano who had captured the gold medal. Orser, finishing in second place, received a silver.

The youngest of four children, Boitano was born on October 22, 1963, in Sunnyvale, California. It was at a show called the Ice Follies that young~ Brian Boitano became excited about skating. Only eight years old, he begged his parents to let him take lessons. Seeing his enthusiasm, they agreed.

Immediately, his coach, Linda Leaver, knew that Brian Boitano would become a great skater. She started giving him private lessons, and soon Boitano was skating in competitions. In 1978, after having won many local titles, 14-year-old Brian won the U.S. Junior Championship. The next year he started skating in senior competitions, and, in 1983, finished second at the U.S. Championships.

It was his performance in the 1984 U.S. Championships, where he again finished second that 20-year-old Boitano earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. But at the 1984 Winter Olympics,Boitano finished in fifth place and watched his teammate Scott Hamilton win the gold medal.

Enthusiasm kept Boitano out on the ice six hours a day, six days a week, and within the year he was the top male skater in the country. After winning the U.S. Championships in 1985 and 1986, Boitano won his first World Championships. He captured his third U.S. title in 1987, but finished second to Brian Orser in the World Championships that year. But then, the 1988 skating season brought Boitano, his fourth straight U.S. Championships title and the gold medal in the 1988 Olympics.

One month after winning the gold, in his last amateur competition, Boitano won the 1988 World Championships. He then launched a professional career, touring 50 cities in Europe and the United States with an ice-skating show. His career took off, and in December 1988, Boitano had his own television special called "Brian Boitano: Canvas of Ice." The show included Katarina Witt, the winner of the 1988 Olympic gold medal in women's figure skating.

In addition to enjoying a successful career on the ice, Boitano readily gave his time to volunteer work. In 1989, he and other champion figure skaters, including Witt and Brian Orser, took part in a 30-city tour of the United States to earn money for amateur skating programs. Presently, he also works for the Starlight Foundation, helping grant wishes to terminally ill children.

Although a professional, Boitano plans to continue competing for the Olympic gold. The 1994 Games mark the first time that professionals are allowed to compete in figure skating. There's no doubt that Brian Boitano will again take the ice by storm and battle it out with rising stars and old-time competitors.