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Photographer Mittan remembered for generosity

Mittan worked as photographer for International Skating Union for almost 20 years

Barry Mittan was a friend to a great many skaters, including Irina Slutskaya.
Barry Mittan was a friend to a great many skaters, including Irina Slutskaya. (courtesy of Brett Barden)

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By Sarah S. Brannen, special to icenetwork.com
(01/25/2013) - Everyone at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and indeed throughout the world of skating, was terribly saddened to hear of the death of photographer and journalist Barry Mittan on Jan. 23. Mittan died of injuries sustained in a car accident Jan. 22 in his home state of Florida.

For almost 20 years, Mittan had worked as a photographer for the International Skating Union and various skating publications and websites. He had been the official photographer for the world, junior world and European championships, and he wrote hundreds of articles about skating. Skaters and colleagues say he was always very generous to the athletes of the sport he loved.

"Barry was always willing to help skaters," icenetwork.com reporter Lynn Rutherford said. "He loved skaters. When they needed photos for their website, when they were in a show and they needed photos for a program, when a parent wanted a photo of their child, Barry would step up and schedule a photo shoot and send them photos. He was very focused on what he could do to publicize the skaters."

"He had a very engaging personality," John Coughlin said. "He was a really special guy. He was someone I always looked forward to seeing at the events. He had a very friendly demeanor in a line of work where you can almost feel like an adversary with the media; it felt very comfortable to be open with him."

Mark Ladwig, who competed in the senior pairs event yesterday, also remembers Mittan with fondness.

"Barry always made me laugh," Ladwig said. "I remember several times spotting him in a six-minute warmup and him flashing me a smile of positive support. I will dearly miss him."

As soon as Mittan's death became public on Wednesday, Twitter and Facebook were flooded with comments from skaters responding to the news.

"It was really shocking to hear that he had passed so suddenly," Coughlin said. "I immediately reached out through Twitter, and kind of spread the word that that had happened. I talked to Kaitlyn Weaver right away, and Geoffrey Varner. We'd all been in touch with him at our very first junior international events. He was the first member of the media who ever wanted to interview me, in 2005, and I remember thinking he was my favorite person ever because he wanted to talk to me and my partner."

Mittan was also an avid gardener and nature photographer. He had a great love of the circus, which he also photographed.

"He was a brilliant guy," remembered Rutherford, who had known Mittan since 1994. "Very smart, and tireless. He was justifiably proud of his photography skills."

Mittan was 63. He is survived by his wife, Jayne.