There are those times when you are just going about your business when suddenly the phone rings. I can’t speak for those that read this blog, but when my phone rings, and I don’t recognize the number, I just let it go to voicemail. I was pleasantly surprised, and pleased, to learn that it was a former colleague from my days as the publisher of a figure skating magazine. She was calling from the Ice Theatre of New York and advised me that they were honoring my skating coach from my days at Sky Rink at an upcoming event.
During my call with Jirina (who is the Executive Director) we reminisced about those years at Sky Rink (1980s) and the glorious decade that followed that saw the sport grow as an industry around the world. Many of us that worked in the sport saw our enterprises grow to levels we only imagined.
But for me the origins go back to the late 1980s and Sky Rink. This was a rink that was literally in the sky. In the case of Sky Rink, it was on the top floor of an office building. It was during those years that I met my coach Darlene who not only trained me harder than any coach I had previously, but did it with pride and levity. She used to call me Louella after the famed columnist Louella Parsons for the stories I would tell. Who would have thought that years after I would launch a newsmagazine that became the world’s largest in the sport.
It was during the Sky Rink days, that I was introduced to Moira the founder of the Ice Theatre of New York. While I always had an appreciation of the arts from dance, ballet and classical music, this was an organization that married all these disciplines to the ice. The result has been a decades-long “ice theatre” that has continuously presented new ways for audiences to enjoy the art of figure skating. The first event I ever coordinated was their storied annual gala. Those early experiences paved the way for the career I have enjoyed.
To learn more about the Ice Theatre of New York and their 2022 Benefit Gala and Performance, please click this link. This year’s event honors Olympic Ice Dance Champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean with Darlene Parent and Wade Corbett as Alumni Award Recipients. Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser will co-chair the event while Betty Wasserman is the Ice Angel Award Recipient.
It has been an interesting week walking down memory lane as Facebook reminded me about the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships that were held in Boston. Aside from an appearance on ESPN’s 30 for 30, I hadn’t been connected to the sport for many years. Suffice to say it was a wonderful reunion of friends and colleagues from days long past.
For it was at those championships that I conceived the idea for Serpentine – a political thriller set in the near future with the logline, “A champion figure skater finds herself in a government conspiracy involving her missing mother and a Cold War mystery that culminates at the world championships in Moscow.” They say life works in mysterious ways. With current world events, who knows, perhaps Serpentine could be the next project.
But whatever project of mine comes next, one thing is certain, it all started in New York.
When I was interviewed for ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary The Price of Gold, the memories of the events at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships quickly came back to life. It was my first “Nationals” as an accredited journalist for the magazine I recently launched. Little did I know that a plan was in the works that would forever change the sport of figure skating. That plan resulted in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. For those who want to get a solid unbiased perspective on what happened during that time, I strongly suggest you watch the documentary. Director Nanette Burstein did a brilliant job presenting the story.
As I read the industry trades regularly I heard about a movie in development that was presenting the story as a black comedy. How do you make a black comedy around a planned attack? Why do you center it on the skater that was banned from the sport of figure skating due to either her knowledge of, actions, or some other involvement in this vicious attack on another skater?
The entertainment industry is littered with hypocrisy. I’m sure some producer was well aware of the tens of millions that were captivated then and how successful the ESPN documentary was. But just because there is a perceived market for something, doesn’t mean that it should be produced. This isn’t a story of fiction, this is one of fact. But the film that just came out two days ago not only makes a laughing stock of the sport, but elevates the perpetrator to the sympathy vote. Let me be clear, anyone who is anyone who follows the sport or works in it, has zero sympathy for her. There’s a reason why she was banned from the sport. I don’t care how many accolades, awards or positive reviews this film receives, it never should have been made.
Nancy Kerrigan is a friend. In addition to skating with her a bit on the same ice many years ago, I interviewed her many times. We really got to know each other when we were on Skating with Celebrities and flew back and forth between Los Angeles and Boston. She is probably not only one of the hardest working skaters I know, but one of the bravest.
Here is someone who was horribly attacked just because she was pursuing her dream to be the best. That’s what sport is all about. To be the best and to be honest in that pursuit. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy path. You attack the ice, not your competitor. You beat them on the podium, not on a knee.
When I think of what Nancy had to go through mentally and physically after that tragedy it still defies any sort of explanation. It was bravery bar none. It’s one thing to overcome a physical setback, it happens all time in sports. But to have it compounded with a planned attack on you so your adversary has a better chance to win, that person should never be allowed to shine again—particularly in a film that presents her sympathetically.
There are so many interesting true stories that could be told in figure skating. One has to ask, is this the only story the sport has to offer? I’ll confess I only watched the first hour of this “non-skating” film and clicked off the screener. Enough was enough.
The real story is about Nancy Kerrigan. How she steadfastly pulled herself together after the tragedy and went on to enjoy a successful skating career. At the end of the day she took to the ice in the rink, not in in the glass.