Tuesday, March 4, 2008

another obsession confession

Winter is almost over and out the door with it goes one of my favorite sports: figure skating. I love figure skating. I wait for it every year and savor the moments with my skaters. When I say "my skaters," I do mean the ones on TV, but I claim them. They are mine. They skate just for me. Who cares about the judges or the people in the stands...I am at home watching.

Oh, I am getting off topic. I love figure skating and find that January and March are the two best months. I don't watch the cheesy ice shows where they have celebrity judges or Disney characters. I like the serious competitions: the US Nationals and the World Championships. I live for the Winter Olympics. I can usually name the winner and I know who has stolen a move from whom. Who? Whom? I never know which word to use.

Back to the subject at hand. I grew up watching skating and my mom took me to an ice show when I was little. I think I was 5 or 6 and we met Dorothy Hamill. She wasn't that nice, but I did get an autograph, which I have lost. Oh, well.
I followed even more closely in high school and college during the reign of Michelle Kwan, and she still reigns in my book as one of the best, if not the best skater out there. I remember her early competitions when her hair was in a pony tail and she wore pink sparkles. And as she grew, so did my admiration for her. She felt the music. She skated with passion. She was affected by nerves. She was accomplished and stylish and graceful, on and off the ice. She never beat anyone with a tire iron or laughed at another performer. She won and lost with more dignity that I can muster.

Each Olympics with Michelle was interesting. She came, she fell, she didn't win the Gold. Impressively enough, she told reporters each time "someone was better, but I WON the silver." Or the bronze. I am sure she was hurting inside, but she never let us see it. I am sure she wanted that Gold Medal, and I wanted her to have it. But she maturely stepped aside and let someone else shine each time she lost. It wasn't her moment.

After Salt Lake, the Tour of Champions came to Greensboro and my friend Kristen and I got tickets. We went and watched as random skaters performed their routines. They were nice and pretty, but they weren't Michelle and that is who the audience was waiting for. Sarah Hughes, the Gold Medal winner was there, but it was Michelle who recieved the standing ovation. Michelle's routine that brought out the flashbulbs. Michelle who walked out to the fan line and stood signing autographs while hundreds stood in line. No other skater came outside.

I was lucky enough to talk to her and get her to sign my program. She was very nice and sweet. She laughed at my joke. She made my day. My month.

I mourn that she no longer competes. I have found a new crop to watch, but no one has replaced her yet. I am not the only one who feels her absence. The commentators on TV are always speaking of it.

I only hope that I can face each challenge in my life with the dignity that she shows. She may have complained in private, stomped her feet and wondered why someone else won, but we never saw it. She never blogged about it, or talked about it. Maybe someday she will write a book; I will buy it.

I want to live my life that way. I want to see my challenges as my own personal Olympics. I may not get the big prize, but I can gracefully accept what I earn. It might be the silver, it could be 8th place, but I will be proud knowing that I did my best. That is all anyone can do.


Jennifer P. said...

What a sweet tribute! How can we get Michelle Kwan over to read this?! I LOVED her too and haven't followed the sport with nearly as much enthusiasm since. Glad she has inspired you.

Thanks so much for wishing me well, but more so for appreciating my good chair value :)! That's what that post was all about anyway--more happy, less sad! Can't wait to "reveal" my great find to you in a future post.

Heather said...

I love that Michelle was so sweet. She looks like she would be really very nice.

I think it's such a hard thing to face adversity with grace. I'm not very good at it. I'm a complainer. I need to learn to pull on my big girl panties and I thank you for this gentle reminder.

In case I haven't told you lately, Sissy, you inspire me. Love you!!

Alison said...

Figure skating...one of my favorite topics.
I too share your love of Michelle Kwan. She is beautiful and gracious. Unlike Nancy Kerrigan who threw that big whiny fit on the Disney World float after she won her silver medal.
Figure skating just hasn't been the same since Michelle no longer competes.
My dad took me to see Champions on Ice after the 1988 Olympics and it was so much fun.
Since the figure skating rules have changed and they've moved on to the point system, I've lost a little bit of interest. Everyone does the same elements and it just seems a bit boring and predictable(I sound like Simon Cowell). I watched the US finals recently (in Jan?) and all of the woman, er girls, were so young and new on the scene that I didn't know who to root for.
And like you, I'm impatiently waiting for the next winter olympics.

Ann said...

Absolutely true its what I always say to my children "Just try your best" my youngest, Harriet has severe Dyslexia and everyday at school is a massive challenge for her, but she understands the family motto and although she can get quite upset and down about school work, she has the biggest smile and is as smart as a whip, and we love her to bits