Eager to persuade Frank Carroll to take their daughter on as a student but frustrated when he didn't respond to their pleas for an audition, Linda Fratianne's parents resorted to desperate measures to ensure the respected figure skating coach would notice her.
They went to the rink in Van Nuys where Carroll taught and sent 9-year-old Linda onto the ice, where she skated circles around Carroll, jumping and prancing all the while.
The ploy worked.
"She was cute as a button and had such spring in her legs," Carroll recalled.
Fratianne, though, was intimidated. "I remember being terrified," the Northridge native said. "I was very shy as a young kid. He was bigger than life to me."
She recovered from her initial fright when Carroll agreed to coach her, beginning a relationship in which she would win four U.S. championships, two world titles and the silver medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games.
"She was the perfect student. Totally cooperative and disciplined, always," Carroll said. "She was the first one who changed skating for girls. They all had to do triples after Linda."
Fratianne was the favorite at Lake Placid after winning the 1979 world championship, but her deficit after the compulsory figures--which were eliminated 10 years later--was too big to overcome. She finished second to Anett Poetzsch of East Germany and third at the 1980 world competition before turning professional.
Now 41, Fratianne is a skating coach in Sun Valley, Idaho. She recently was divorced and said she would like to return to the Los Angeles area but is reluctant to uproot her 11-year-old daughter, Ali, a ski racer.
Fratianne has remained close to Carroll over the years, calling him for advice and referring students to him for lessons. While he was coaching Timothy Goebel at an out-of-town competition last fall, Fratianne filled in for him at HealthSouth Training Center in El Segundo.
It brought back many pleasant memories. "I loved it," she said. "I was teaching kids and I had skated with their mothers. And it's 75 degrees there, which I loved. I've been in cold places all my life and I want to be warm. I come home and wear two pairs of long johns, a headband and a scarf in the house."