I used to be addicted to figure skating. It was my absolute favorite sport, and each year from fall to spring I would scan the TV Guide for any televised competition. I’d watch them breathlessly (except for Ice Dancing…zzzzzzzz) and size up each competitor, and pick my favorites each year.
But these days I know very little about who laces their skates or who sits in the kiss and cry. Do you know I barely watched skating in the Olympics last year? I have to tell you skating got dull for me once they changed the scoring system back in 2004.
Isn’t that dopey? I mean, why should that make a difference?
Well dammit, because old scoring system was fun! Judges from different countries would post their score, 6.0 being the highest. With this system, a viewer felt more involved. You could cheer the 5.9’s and the 6.0’s and jeer at the crusty judge who gave your favorite a 5.2. With the new system they just post a total – and it’s a number that I just can’t comprehend…Ok, his score is 65.35….well is that good or bad? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
I lost interest real fast.
I tried to soldier on, but once the skaters were in the kiss and cry, there was nothing to look forward to. Waiting for those scores, which would flash up one at a time, sometimes, was part of the drama that was figure skating – as much of a nail biter as watching and wondering if they will land that triple axel.
I realized how much the scoring had played a part in my enjoyment of the sport. And suddenly a lifetime of love for figure skating just melted away.
I’d been watching since I was a kid. I had a Dorothy Hamill cut when I was in the 6th grade. I remember watching Scott Hamilton in the days where he had hair…and a rather lousy cut, I might add. I remember watching Denise Biellmann and that wonderful spin, and Elaine Zayak, who was from Paramus, NJ – only a few towns away from my hometown.
I hated Katarina Witt when she came on the scene. She was too buxom and she was from West Germany…she was like an evil prison guard in my mind. I rooted for Debi Thomas in the Battle of the Carmens (where I lost) and rooted for Brian Boytano in the Battle of the Brians (where I won) during the ’88 Olympics. I mean, who wanted Brian Orser?
But it wasn’t solely American skaters who piqued my fancy. In the late 80’s/early 90’s I fell in love with the Russian Pairs team of Gordeeva and Grinkov. They were so good, so elegant, and that little Ekaterina was just so cute! They could land jumps that other pairs teams couldn’t – and they made it look easy.
They wound up getting married, those two. But then, in 1995 Sergei died suddenly of a heart attack right on the ice while they were practicing in Lake Placid. I was heart broken – how in the world could someone so young and so fit just die like that? I went to see Ekaterina skate in a Champions on Ice show at Madison Square Garden the next winter, and I balled my eyes out.
Now, we can’t have a serious skating discussion without bringing up the whole Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga. Personally, I hated both of them. Tonya Harding looked like a thug, and Nancy Kerrigan, with her giant Mr. Ed horse teeth, irked me as well. I didn’t like anyone that year – not even Oksana the orphan – but I’ll tell you, the Olympics that year was riveting television!
In the early 2000’s I fell in love with Men’s skating….well, Johnny Weir to be exact. Oh, he was so wonderful to watch, and so cute with his hair and his smile! How about when Rudy Galindo won the Nationals in 1996 – that performance was goose-bump raising. And then Evan Lycacek came on the scene – he was super easy on the eyes and a super skater to boot. What had I been missing all these years?
But my greatest skating triumph came when Champions on Ice started off their 2007 (and for a while, last) tour in Richmond. Hubby was the zamboni driver/ice tech at the time, and I got to hang out backstage more than once during the week they were rehearsing.
Johnny Weir called me one night to tell me my husband had grease on his pants.
I held Evan Lycacek’s skate guards.
Rudy Galindo was jealous that I had a photo of Johnny Weir on my office bulletin board. he made me promise to add his photo as well. And I did.
Evgeni Plushenko? He smoked non-stop and avoided me like the plague.
I got to stand rink-side during the entire show, and was allowed to attend the meet & greet where my camera ran out of batteries. Typical. Thankfully a co-worker of my husbands had a camera and snapped photos of me with Weir, Lycacek & Galindo.
I was thankful until I saw them, that is. She had zoomed in so close that I was all face. Ugh. I was not Norma Desmond and I was not ready for my closeup. Here I had my photo taken with 3 of figure skating’s golden boys, and I had a gigantic moon-face that no amount of photoshopping could fix.
That was more than 7 years ago and nobody outside my immediate family has seen those photos. My Facebook bragging rights? Shot to freakin’ hell.
I was watching the US Figure Skating championships a few weeks back, and a young skater named Adam Rippon caught my eye. His free skate gave me chills, much like Johnny and Rudy had back in the day when I rarely missed a men’s skating event.
And then they flashed his score, and it meant nothing to me.
I turned the channel and watched an episode of Chopped instead.