Related Biography: Skating Coach Frank Carroll
Until their partnership ended in 2001, Michelle Kwan and coach Frank Carroll had one of the most productive relationships in figure skating. Born in Massachusetts in the late 1930s, Carroll grew up skating at a Worcester rink and in the 1950s trained with former U.S. Champion Maribel Vinson Owen. Although he became one of the top U.S. skaters of the late 1950s, Carroll put aside his amateur career after failing to make the 1960 Olympic team. He instead completed a degree in education at Holy Cross and spent four years in the Ice Follies, a popular figure skating review that toured the country.
Carroll took bit parts in several low-budget movies in the mid-1960s but was drawn into coaching after giving a few informal lessons to skaters around Los Angeles. With the death of Owen and several other of the country's top coaches in a 1961 plane crash en route to the World Championship—an accident that devastated the USFSA's ranks—the demand for skilled coaches was high. By the mid-1970s Carroll had coached several outstanding skaters, including 1977-1980 U.S. and 1977 and 1979 World Champion Linda Fratianne, who won the silver medal at the 1980 Olympics. Carroll had a less harmonious relationship with 1989 and 1992 U.S. Champion Christopher Bowman, who was eventually sidelined with drug and alcohol problems.
Although he considered retiring from coaching at various points in his career, Carroll began working with Michelle Kwan at the Ice Castle in Lake Arrowhead, California in 1992. The two developed into one of the strongest teams in figure skating and seemed so close that Kwan's announcement in October 2001 that she had left Carroll to compete without a coach came as a surprise. "I think maybe she's feeling like a woman now," Carroll told David Davis of the Los Angeles Magazine in a January 2002 profile, "She's twenty-one, she's wealthy, she has a boyfriend. She's probably feeling she should take charge of her life. She's feeling her oats." Carroll remained one of the most respected coaches in figure skating with pupils that included 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel and former U.S. bronze medalist Angela Nikodinov.
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