Ice Network

Davis cherishes experience at Lillehammer Games

Two-time U.S. champ now spends his time as technical specialist, coach
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Two-time U.S. champion Scott Davis (middle) recently served as a technical specialist at 2017 Skate Canada. -courtesy of Scott Davis

The 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, were unlike any figure skating competition before or since. Professionals were allowed to be reinstated and were eligible for Olympic competition, and revered names in the sport -- such as Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, and Brian Boitano -- returned to the scene of their greatest triumphs.

While skating fans were psyched to watch their favorites from the past go against the sport's rising stars, the general public was obsessed with the match-up between Nancy Kerrigan, who had been viciously attacked at the U.S. championships in Detroit, and rival Tonya Harding.

Despite all that, Scott Davis stayed focused only on himself and his goals -- namely, earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Leading into the U.S. championships, Davis and coach Kathy Casey were very conscious of Boitano's return. While Davis gave his all to this training, Casey was the strategist.

"We were supposed to go to the pro/am competition in November (1993) and she said, 'Let's not do that one because Brian is going to be there,'" Davis, 45, recalled. "I trusted her direction, and that was probably one of the reasons I was able to beat Brian at nationals, because I hadn't gone head to head with him prior to that."

Looking back at his Olympic experience, Davis certainly remembers the media circus surrounding the competition, but he also has many more memories of his time in Lillehammer.

"One of the highlights was the Opening Ceremony," said Davis, who finished eighth at those Games. "It was really cold, but it was awesome. Taking in other events was exciting, and being in the cafeteria with other athletes, hanging out with speed skaters -- it was all that I dreamt it was going to be and more."

There was not a second Olympics for Davis as a skater, but he did return in 2010 as the coach of Canadian men's competitor Vaughn Chipeur. Being a coach in Vancouver brought a different set of pressures. Chipeur got the second of Canada's two men's berths, and Davis called upon his memories of what Casey did for him in order to be the best coach possible for his skater.

"It was all those little extra things you do as a coach to make sure that your athlete is prepared mentally and physically, as well as talking to coaches, judges and technical people trying to make sure that all the little details were covered," Davis said.

Perhaps someday Davis will have a third kind of Olympic experience, as a technical specialist. He recently called the men's and ladies events at Skate Canada.

"You could feel everyone is conscious the Olympics are coming up, and they want to make sure they're geared up and ready to go," Davis said. "There were a lot more questions about levels than I'd ever had previously.

"The quads are crazy. Just watching practice, it's amazing what the guys are doing these days. I couldn't even imagine trying to do that."

Davis lives in Calgary with wife Stephanie LaRiviere and daughter Maggie, 11. He coaches at the Canada Olympic Park rink and at the Glencoe Club, where he's taken on the role of skating director. While he loves teaching competitors, he also thrives on getting kids to embrace the sport of skating.

He said, "It's a bit slippery at times, but there's something about stepping on the ice, gliding, skating fast, leaning on edges and curving, jumping and spinning that's pretty addictive from my perspective."