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I just love to watch ice skating on TV: exhibitions, competitions, Olympics, even ice shows. I love the names of the moves the skaters make, the jumps, the twists – names like triple axle, double loop, triple flip, quadruple axle (quad), twizzlers, straight-line footwork, lay backs, sit spins, inside death spirals, lifts, spin sequences. I love the flow across the ice, the costumes, the music. The hours and hours of practice these skaters log to make the skating look easy, the heartbreak of falling out of a jump during an otherwise excellent performance, the number of falls a skater experiences while learning a new move are all in the background every time a skater takes the ice.
Skaters also seem to form a family especially once they become professional skaters. Their world is small because it consists of mostly ice rinks and trainers and skaters. It is large because they travel the world. What is it like to hang out in such a cold place all day, every day? It must be hard on the joints. Does the body just adjust to it? I like that the professional skaters seems so supportive of each other, not competitive at all. They have history together and they are close.
Of course many of the skaters I loved have retired or they no longer compete. They have specials skating together or with their children. But I saw Torvill and Dean skate to Bolero, and I saw Ekaterina Gordeeva float over the ice with her husband, Sergei Grinkov before he died and left her a widow at 24. I saw Ilia Kulik skate magic with a hat or was it a couple of hats. I watched Elvis Stoyko and Kurt Browning and Brian Boitano dance every kind of traditional and hip number and entertain us so well. I saw Scott Hamilton do his backflip before he had cancer and after he had cancer. I watched Katarina Witt flirt her way across the ice. I enjoyed the wit of Kristi Yamaguchi and the grace of Michelle Kwan. They were both enchanting. I watched Oksana Baiul the first time she skated like a dying swan and it was all great. Sometimes it was so great I had to stand up. There are still wonderful skaters and I still watch whenever skating is available on television, but that golden age of skating is past now.
The new skaters have not yet formed the close ties that have turned the last generation of skaters into a family. I’m sure skating will have another golden age and hopefully the new skaters will experience the same closeness the professional skaters enjoy.