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Wood among group of celebrities slated to attend figure festival

June 11, 2015
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The World Figure Championship and Figure Festival from August 25 to 29 in Lake Placid promises to bring many elite figure skaters to the Olympic Center, both as skaters and as judges for the event.

One of the celebrity skaters serving as a judge is 1968 Olympic and World silver medalist is Tim Wood.

Wood is perhaps best known to figure skating fans as a skater who rocketed to a Olympic and World silver medal in 1968 after placing ninth in the 1967 World Championship. This dramatic improvement was due to increased training hours and greater attention paid to figures - also known as school figures, the component of skating that comprised half the score at that time.

Article Photos

From left, AmericanTim Wood, Wolfgang Schwarz, of Austria, and Patrick Pera, of France, stand on the podium after collecting medals at the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble, France.
Provided photo

"I worked that competitive season like I had never worked before. I realized what I wanted to achieve in preparation for the upcoming Olympics," Wood said. "Figures represented half the score so in order to be in contention, I had to be in the top 3 after figures to be on the podium."

Veteran skaters know what influence figures had over the sport at one time, but many young skaters have never heard of the discipline, even though it was figures that gave figure skating its name. Each figure has a certain pattern that must be completed, and some require turns such as brackets and rockers that can be difficult to complete on their own but

even more challenging when placed in the confines of a pattern. Figures built edge control, technique, and skating quality, thereby helping to produce some of the greatest skaters in history.

The practice of figures requires discipline, drive and, of course, practice, to be truly proficient at them. Even elite skaters had to put significant effort into mastering the figures, which they attribute to their skating skills and technique.

"I'm not sure I enjoyed them (figures) until I started winning with them," Wood said. "Figures are a discipline that give you all the tools for edge control and the freedom to paint artistry with color, texture and depth. Without, you only have black and white with shades of gray."

Figures were included in World and Olympic competition until 1990 when they were discontinued. That is, until now with the World Figure Championship and Figure Festival being endorsed by ISI. Many figure skaters and coaches, including Wood, practice and/or advocate for figures participation today.

"After three generations without compulsory school figures, all understanding of how an edge is created through positional physical movement has been either forgotten or not taught," Wood said "Anything and everything regarding the 'skating' portion of the sport is directly related to figures. Taking figures out of skating is paramount equivalent to taking

scales out of music or barre work out of ballet - it is fundamentally structural."

With the World Figure Championship & Figure Festival coming to Lake Placid, there is now an opportunity for veteran figures practitioners and figures novices alike to explore figures and their positive impact on the sport, and help create a new skating history in the legendary 1932 Olympic Arena that has served as a training space for countless elite skaters and coaches. Wood feels that the World Figure Championship and Figure Festival and the continued practice of figures is important to the sport on many levels.

When asked how skaters can benefit from figures today, Wood said they can gain everything from the practice.

"(Skaters can benefit) if they want to become World and Olympic champions again; remember the US dominated world and Olympic competition in men and women divisions for over 60 years, not so in the past 10 years," Wood said. "I feel privileged to have been asked and want to share how important figures are to the structural integrity of all positional

control and movement in skating, jumping directly dependent upon ballet."

Wood looks forward to participating in the championship as a judge, seeing old friends and meeting new skaters interested in school figures. Wood was last in Lake Placid in late summer 1969.

"I was going to college full time and training seven hours a day, so not a lot of time for fun," Wood said. "It was a welcomed vacation."

After Wood retired from competition in 1970, he skated in shows including the Ice Capades and served as an ABC figure skating commentator alongside Peggy Fleming and Terry Gannon.

Today, Wood's endeavors outside skating still correlate with sports and figure skating.

"I'm building several Olympic and World class sport real estate developments in hopes of developing champions for the future," Wood said. "The reason I'm committed to developing projects dedicated to arts, athletics and academics is that my educational, business and private life were founded in skill sets developed through Olympic and world sport. I'm hoping to pass on that knowledge to future generations."

More information on the World Figure Championship & Figure Festival, including registration, can be found on their website at



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