For lack of anything better on the tube, last night we watched the two-hour coverage of the U. S. women’s figure skating championship. Ashley Wagner, the “close but no cigar” skater, finally made it all the way and beat out Alissa Czisny and Agnes Zawadski for the title. I make it sound like we weren’t very interested, but, in fact, I’ve been a fan of figure skating for as long as I can remember. I was even old enough to remember when Norway's Sonja Henie won several Olympics and went on to star in skating movies in the Thirties and Forties. I have many memories of moments on the ice for one skater or another. Peggy Fleming, who won Olympic gold in 1968, was then and still is one of the classiest skaters and women I’ve ever seen. Most of the ones I best remember are women. I guess I just like to see beautiful women make beautiful moves on the ice. But I do remember Brian Boitano, who, in 1988, perfected the move called the Tano, a triple lutz during which he raised his right arm overhead throughout the jump. And, of course, Scott Hamilton, the charismatic baldie with the first ever backward flip on ice, a move that wasn’t legal when he first did it. But the women: Dorothy Hamil 1n 1976, with her wedge haircut that influenced many young women in the Seventies; Katarina Witt, the tough German lady who won gold in 1984 and 1988; Kristi Yamaguchi, with gold in 1992; tiny Tara Lipinski in 1998, who sped around the ice like a bullet and stole the gold from Michelle Kwan. And who could forget Nancy Kerrigan and her battles with Tonya Harding. Remember? In 1994, Jeff Gillooly (should be Jeff Gill-Looney), Tonya’s ex-husband, hatched a plot to break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg just before the U.S. women’s championships. And Tonya went through a number of really odd incidents throughout and after her skating career (broken skate strings, loose blades, unhooked skating outfit, caught in traffic, etc.) and released a sex tape involving her and Gillooly and finally wound up in a boxing ring. But from Tonya’s classlessness to the most classy lady of all, Michelle Kwan, who was never quite able to win Olympic gold although she won nine U.S. and five world titles. Last night, Brian Boitano introduced her as she was inducted into the U.S. Women’s Figure Skating Hall of Fame. And finally, one of the most moving and memorable segments I've ever seen, Torvill and Dean in the ice dance in 1984, bringing me and the audience to its feet as they danced to “Bolero.” Beautiful. I've inserted the video of their dance for your enjoyment.
Hard to believe my memories cover over half a century of figure skating.