Skating Champs Make an Ice Pair
Lloyd Eisler and Kristy Swanson, Skating with Celebrities
Last week, actress Kristy Swanson
and Olympic medalist Lloyd Eisler
saw their on-the-ice partnership result in a championship on Fox's Skating with Celebrities
, as they edged out sportscaster Jillian Barberie
and pro John Zimmerman
. While Swanson balked at discussing her and Eisler's reported off-rink romance — "I don't really want to get into my personal life," she deferred — everything else was fair game in this TVGuide.com Q&A.
TVGuide.com: Wasn't there a gossip item weeks ago that Jillian Barberie and her partner had won Skating with Celebrities, and it leaked out because there would be hubbub since she had training as a kid...?
Kristy Swanson: I know that ever since we shot the last episode, we had to keep [the outcome] a secret. There were photographs of us wearing the medals and holding the trophies, and the producers were afraid that it could get leaked out that we won. So I think their strategy was to sort of fool everyone into thinking [someone else] may have won. It's been hard to keep it a secret from October until now.
TVGuide.com: To that end, I wondered why Skating wasn't broadcast live, à la Dancing with the Stars or American Idol?
Kristy: When I originally got onboard, that was the plan, and to have America vote.
Lloyd Eisler: I don't think we ever got a real reason why they weren't doing it live.
Kristy: There was a time when [executive producer] Arthur Smith explained that you need to resurface the ice in between and it was a little too hard for them to organize [a live show around] that.
TVGuide.com: At what point did you think, "We just might win this"?
Lloyd: For me, it was probably after the third episode, where we fell twice and sort of [avoided elimination] by the skin of our teeth. At that point I knew the tricks we were going to be doing would be harder and that the whole nerves thing for Kristy was over with. After you've fallen, what else could happen?
Kristy: I didn't think it until after John and Jillian skated at the end [of the final episode]. When she fell, Jillian herself said she knew for sure they weren't going to win.
TVGuide.com: Do you think they made a mistake going for an axle?
Lloyd: No. If you don't push the limit of your own expectations, you'll always say "What if?" For personal satisfaction, you always have to go with what you think is best, what you think is the hardest. Because then you can say, "I gave it my best and it didn't work. But at least I didn't go home because I was too cautious." As a competitor, that would be my thinking. So as much as Jillian pressed the issue on her axle and no one could talk her out of it, I'd have to say that I might be in the same position.
Kristy: That's why I wanted to do the one-arm Detroiter [where Lloyd holds Kristy above his head with one hand]. I wanted to do it because I knew John Zimmerman couldn't do it.
TVGuide.com: Who is that move scarier for — Kristy, the one being held up, or Lloyd, the one holding her?
Lloyd: Absolutely her. Any time you're upside down facing the ceiling and someone is spinning you around 9 feet off the ground, that's scary.
Kristy: It's scarier for me, but I'm used to it now.
TVGuide.com: Kristy, did the gash you got on your chin from hitting Lloyd's skate during another move heal up OK?
Kristy: Mm-hmm. I have a little scar.
TVGuide.com: Why did you choose this for your first reality series?
Kristy: I've always loved figure skating — I did it when I was a kid, like ages 5 and 6, and I always had great appreciation for the sport — so when my agent called me up about the show, I almost dropped the phone. I couldn't believe they were going to do a competition of celebrity skating. I thought, "That's going to be really funny and really dangerous... and really cool." It took me like a month to make the decision because I'm not used to having cameras follow me around all day long, let alone performing in front of a live audience, but I decided to take the bull by the horns and just go for it.
TVGuide.com: You must be happy with your trophies. They're not ghastly like on Dancing with the Stars.
Lloyd: I think our trophy is cool.
Kristy: Our trophy is really cool.
Lloyd: It's like a piece of ice that has sort of been plucked out.
TVGuide.com: Did you each get one?
Lloyd: Which is ironic, because a lot of times in [pairs skating] competitions we usually only get one trophy. "You take it for six months, and then I'll take it for six months...."
Kristy: If we had only gotten one, I would have kept it. [Laughs]
Lloyd: Well, because you're the celebrity, of course!
TVGuide.com: What did you think of the skating at this year's Winter Olympics?
Lloyd: The caliber of the skaters is great but the new [scoring] system is either really working for them or it's not working for them. There was such a wide [disparity] between the good and the bad. I'm not 100 percent convinced that the new system is as good as it comes across as being. The second mark is still 100 percent biased. I can still lie and cheat and be biased; you just don't get to know who it is now.
TVGuide.com: And the Monday-morning quarterbacking about falls not deserving of medals?
Lloyd: The big problem is that the spectators don't know the new system well enough. They knew the old 6.0 system so well that they could tell what the deductions would be. With the new system, as a coach, I have to have a book with me at all times to figure out how many points you get for the things that you do. The thing we have to remember is we're all vying for entertainment dollars, and so if you as the general public loved the program and you were entertained, then that person on the ice did their job. If they didn't entertain you, they failed. We need to focus a lot more on that, instead of just doing jump A, B, C, D....
TVGuide.com: Kristy, do you have any acting projects pending?
Kristy: I did a movie last year called Black Hole with Judd Nelson, for Sci Fi Channel. A black hole goes crazy and tries to suck up St. Louis. [Laughs] Judd and I play scientists trying to get it under control.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any particular expectations having won Skating with Celebrities? That casting directors might think, "Ooh, that Kristy Swanson is one plucky hottie. Let's hire her."
Kristy: [Laughs] No. I did the show because it came at the right time and it sounded like a fun, challenging thing to do. Whether I won or not didn't totally matter.
TVGuide.com: This could have been a real cheese fest. Did the rewards outweigh the risk?
Swanson: Absolutely. As a group, none of us wanted it to be cheesy. Everyone worked really hard and it was very heartfelt.
TVGuide.com: And Lloyd, would you want to come back as a judge perhaps?
Lloyd: I would love to come back as a judge. One, because it would be ironic and funny to put me in the position where now I'm going to be criticized as a judge. All my career I've been very critical of judges.
TVGuide.com: Who would you replace? Nasty Sir John Nicks?
Lloyd: I have great respect for John Nicks — he's critical, but he's probably one of the top five coaches in our sport ever. His delivery just isn't the best. I would like to replace [International Figure Skating magazine founder] Mark Lund. John and I could go against each other — one from the old era versus one from the new era.
Kristy: It'd be controversial for sure.