Figure Skating in
Workshop with Doug
Doug is better than ever
The charming and talented
figure skating icon Doug Leigh was back in Sudbury Ontario sharing his
unique insight with our northern figure skating youth. Using amusing
stories, exaggerated movements, video tapes, and repeated detailed
instruction, Doug captured their attention, sometimes made them smile,
and continually showed them how to try ever harder to push into new, and
greater, skating territory.
He's a fascinating man to watch, or talk
to. One moment serious and intense, the next will find him chatting or
laughing heartily. Friendly, personable, and charismatic, he's also fun.
I have written in the past about Doug
Leigh's talent, I will not do so here again. Let it suffice to mention
the names Brian Orser, Elvis Stoko, Steven Cousins, Ben Ferreira, and
Jeffrey Buttle. That gives the idea nicely.
This time out I would like to share with
you a small glimpse of the kind of man that is Doug Leigh. I will do so
with photos, quotes, and bits and pieces of stories. I hope you enjoy
his company as much as I did.
During the workshops he hold their
You'll often see him positioning a skater
just so, and then explaining to the others why it's better here than
This photo was taken while Doug told us
about an incident that happened while training Elvis Stoko to do a back
flip on the ice. His telling of it was entertaining and amusing, the
actual event could not have been either. He explained that Elvis was in
a harness, two men were helping, and somehow during a back flip attempt
Elvis' skate caught Doug in the face. He was slashed down his forehead,
across the bridge of his nose, and across his left cheek. He says he
remembers hearing a really big crack, then found himself on his knees
wondering if he'd lost an eye, since he couldn't see through all the
blood. An ambulance ride and 14 stitches later and he says all was well.
Although he admits to carrying vitamin E around for six months to apply
to the wound in the hopes of lessening the scaring. It worked, today all
you see is a small nick on the bridge of his nose. He laughingly told us
that he'd felt that he'd had enough back flips in his career for awhile.
A skater's reaction to the story above!
Doug Leigh is tireless in his attempts to
explain, and show, and explain again, a particular movement, blade
angle, or point of balance.
"That's the nice thing about life," says
Doug Leigh with a huge smile, "there's always more. There's always
higher, faster, better."
In response to the polite, if dull,
everyday question, "So what's new with you this year?" A typical Doug
Leigh response is "New? Why everything!" He'll then dazzle you with
another smile and add, "Isn't it great? Every day is new! I hear some
people say, same old, same old. Not for me! Everyday is something new,
"You've got to say "I own it.""
When one of the skaters made a comment
about Ben Ferreira being good, Doug smiles with wry humor and says
"Yeah, he still has some potential, keep skating kid, you're doing
Doug told the skaters to get out there
and practice three jumps in a row. No skating around the arena, try a
jump, and then skate around again. Skate, jump, set up, jump, set up,
jump. You get three times the practice that way! It seems to have
When one skater was having problems
keeping her pony tail in place, Doug offered to help. "I have tape!"
Doug was happy to pose with any group or
skater or fan in waiting that asked. I said I imagined he got tired of
this sort of thing after the first several thousand times, he said no,
it was nice. He found it flattering.
Two skaters from the Sudbury Skating Club
watching with rapt attention to Doug explaining a jump using tapes of
"You want to understand it, then feel it
and hear it. Internalize the feeling, then you have it."
Using Ben Ferreira as an example he
explained that Ben always faces "each lesson like it was his last
lesson. It's that precious to him."
To me it sounds like a description of how
Doug Leigh faces life.
"See what you are creating. Make each
piece clear, precise, know what you're after."
Planning a jump, or planning a career,
you could do worse than follow that.
That's me on the right, hearing a story
of a time when a group of NHL hockey players traded skates with a group
of figure skaters. Doug says the general reaction of the hockey players
was "Oh... this is a bad idea." Apparently they didn't do well in figure
Doug Leigh is headed for his 25th,
consecutive, Nationals competition.
Even the coaches watch carefully.
Sudbury Skating Club coaches Heather
Basso (on Doug's left) and Wendy Philion (on his right).
Wendy says that "each skater picks up
something" during Doug's workshops. "He's so focused, and if they're
sleeping... he'll wake them up!"
And on the principle of saving the best
for last, here is this website's own Megan Demlow, one of Doug's biggest
fans, with the man himself.
We're looking forward to having you back
in the north again Doug Leigh!
These three lucky ladies got to celebrate their birthdays (or close) in
the workshop taught by figure skating icon Doug Leigh, founder of the
Mariposa School of Skating.
Happy Birthday Ladies!
Read more about Doug Leigh