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Skate Today

Mittan Sidelined for Olympics and Worlds

Well-known figure skating journalist and photographer J. Barry Mittan had to miss the remainder of the 2009-10 season to have heart surgery. Mittan was rushed to the emergency room in Lake Placid in November while returning home from covering Skate America and Skate Canada. He also underwent multiple procedures to check for cancer and may require further surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

“I’ve taken a real beating the last few years while covering skating,” Mittan said. “It’s not always as glamorous a job as one might think. I’ve had more injuries than I ever did when I was in the circus. At Europeans, I had to photograph all day while standing with an injured left leg and holding the camera with an injured right arm. There’s not many events where you get to sit and shoot any more.”

“When you work 18-20 hours straight for several days in a row at a competition, it’s hard to keep yourself healthy,” he continued. “I’ve had a strained, sprained, pulled or torn muscle in every part of my body over the last few years. I think Warsaw was the worst where I had seven different injuries by the end of the event.”

“I had hoped to have the heart surgery in late January,” Mittan said, “but I caught a virus while covering Europeans and had to postpone it.”

“As I didn’t know what complications might arise I canceled my events for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. I transferred my Olympic photography credentials to Brett Barden and recommended a couple of good German photographers, Torsten Gruen and Sabine Hoehner, to cover Worlds and Junior Worlds for Pirouette and the other media that need coverage.”

Mittan does many of the photographs for the magazines Doppio Axel in Italy and OzSkater in Australia as well as Germany’s Pirouette. He also provides many photographs used on websites like Skate Today and GoldenSkate as well as articles for other major skating websites like

Mittan is uncertain about his return next season.

“It’s pretty expensive covering skating these days,” Mittan noted, “especially when you are paying a lot of the costs yourself. Airfares and hotel costs are both pretty high. I average about $2,000 per event in costs before I even walk in the door and that’s hard to recover. I usually have to do at least three different jobs per event to break even.”

“Hopefully, I’ll be back by the beginning of the Grand Prix season,” Mittan stated, “but that all depends on my health and future contracts.”

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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