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Figure skating coach Frank Carroll dies at 85

Frank Carroll Figure Skating Coach

January 3, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Figure skating coach Frank Carroll in the ladies short program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Carroll, a Hall of Fame coach of Olympic figure skaters including Evan Lysacek and Michelle Kwan, died Sunday at age 85.

“U.S. Figure Skating mourns the loss of coaching legend Frank Carroll,” the organization said in a statement. “A member of the World and U.S. Figure Skating Halls of Fame, Frank was instrumental in the careers of numerous Olympic and World champions and many future Hall of Famers.”

Based in Southern California, Carroll coached the five-time world champion Kwan for most of her career, including to a silver medal at the 1998 Olympics.

“For over 10 years Frank was by my side −- coaching and mentoring me to be the best skater and person that I can be,” Kwan said in a text message Sunday afternoon, according to USA Today. “He bestowed upon me a wealth of knowledge and history of the sport he loved so much. Off the ice and over the years, he became much more than just a coach. I know he’s changed the lives of thousands of skaters for the better, and I’m grateful that I’m one of them and I wouldn’t be here without his guidance. I love and miss Frank very much.”

In 2003, Lysacek graduated high school in the Chicago suburbs and moved to Los Angeles to train under Carroll. He won a world title in 2009 and, in 2010, became Carroll’s first student to win Olympic gold.

“I started working with Frank when I was nothing in skating,” Lysacek said by email Monday. “Frank taught me and shaped me, as an athlete and as a person. Although he said several times that he didn’t much care about winning an Olympic Gold, I wanted it for him. Frank coached so many great champions in our sport, all of whom I admire and respect. I WAS NOT one of the best or most talented skaters that Frank ever coached, but he rarely ever talked to me about how to be great… he only talked to me about how to win. My motivation to win Olympic gold became as much about Frank as it was about my country. As the pressure mounted and training became more grueling leading up to the Olympics, Frank and my bond grew. My life consisted of a cold empty ice rink, and Frank was often the only person I would speak with in a day.

“On a particularly difficult training day, I broke down. Frank told me that he never competed at the Olympic Games, and maybe didn’t ever feel the kind of pressure that I was under… but when he looks back at his life as a skater, he hardly remembers the crowning moments of his career. What he remembers most are days in an empty ice rink, where he skated and dreamed what might be. He recalled those days as the best time of his life. Looking back, of course I remember some of our winning moments together, but Frank was right (as he always was)... the private moments, with just Frank and me training... working out every detail, drilling elements and dreaming of what could be, are the moments that make my eyes well up. Later in life, my relationship with Frank evolved. He was not my coach anymore, he was my friend and my family. Frank knew that I loved him. When we spent time together, we almost never talked about skating. He talked to me more like a father would talk to a son. I will miss him forever.”

Carroll’s students also included 1980 Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Linda Fratianne, 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel, 2014 Olympic team event bronze medalist Gracie Gold and 2014 Olympic singles bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who died in 2018.

Carroll, a talented junior skater from Massachusetts, became a coach in 1960. He coached at least one skater at every Olympics from 1998 through 2018, the year he retired from coaching elite skaters.