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Skating Sundays

October 21st, 2003 · 2 Comments

It’s rare for our family to all sit down and watch television. We don’t really have a TV, but we can access it via Ted’s computer, with a big antenna on the floor of his office. It’s not ideal but it works, at least most of the time.

Why do we watch TV as a family? Only one reason: to see ice skating. This past Sunday was the first broadcast of the season. The four of us (Elisabeth napping) fit onto the futon sofa in Ted’s office, looking at the monitor to see the skaters performing in Madison Square Garden.

If we had a family sport, it would be skating, but right now it’s more fantasy than fact. More spectator than skater. Ted took lessons in college and continued to skate at the rink during grad school. He enjoyed it a lot. After we married, I joined him. We would go from time to time for free at the school rink. I have a pair of men’s hockey skates we bought for me: thick and black, indicative of my ability. The only skating I knew as a child was on rented rollerskates, at occasional birthday parties, accompanied by flashing light and disco beat at the Skate King, a completely different type of experience and skill. My ice skating began when I moved to the East Coast, and it ended when we moved away. I never practiced enough to progress; it seemed that every time we went to the rink, I had to start from scratch, learning how to get around the rink without fearing falling, feeling more like an awkward girl than a grownup. When we moved to California, the skates went into the boxes and have stayed there since.

Through our marriage, we’ve always tried to watch the Winter Olympics so we could see the skating. I think we may have missed 1998, but we borrowed a TV from my boss to see 1992 and 1994. I remember how we sat on chairs in our spare bedroom in that first apartment, watching the passionate pair Gordeeva and Grinkov in the little black and white box perched on the guest bed. The 2002 Olympics were the reason we bought the antenna. And it was worth it, just to watch Sarah Hughes win her gold medal with a wonderful long program performance. Last year I think we were able to see most of the season, at least the part shown on ABC. Although Ted was the first fan in the family, I’m getting addicted myself, but I still can’t tell one type of jump from another. I guess I relax too much while watching. The combination of athletics and art, music and passion, skill and strength, is amazing and fun to see.

The girls are now excited about ice skating, perhaps even a bit deceived. Abigail looks at the skaters on the TV and says “I can do that.”! We have yet to take them skating. Living here on Bainbridge Island, we have had limited options, and it looked like we would have to make a special excursion, take the ferry, cross the Sound and drive somewhere, in order to let the girls try ice skating. Maybe even take the Kingston-Edmonds ferry and try to find a rink where Rosalynn Sumners – 1984 Olympic silver medalist – might have practiced.

But, much to our delight, we were happy to hear that a new ice rink opened in Bremerton last spring, the Bremerton Ice Arena about an hour drive (no boat!) from our house. They have plans to make a new one in north Kitsap County, even closer to our home, opening next fall. We are excited. When the island paper had free skating coupons, I snatched up five, so we would have plenty of opportunities to go. Now that Ted’s finished the book, we hope to find some time to take the family to the rink.

Watching skating on Sunday was fun. After two years of seeing TV skating it’s losing its novelty and becoming family ritual. I fear though too that this season won’t be as exciting to watch. Sarah Hughes is taking the year to focus on her studies starting at Yale. I’m happy for her but we’ll miss watching her on the ice. Even at her young age, she had an elegance and style. Her wide-eyed-I-won-the-Olympics innocence was a treasure, and she remained modest and humble, grounded in her family, even after becoming a star. More than her Olympic long program performance, she made us her fans with her character and lifestyle.

This year the remaining top two American women don’t have the same appeal to us. There’s Michelle Kwan, a champion worthy of respect, excellent skater, tough and competitive but her style just doesn’t sparkle to us as Sarah’s did. Sasha Cohen upset her for the first time in the competition we saw on Sunday: she’s a bit younger, aggressive like Michelle, and eager to win. She’s got excellent extension, but sometimes watching her is like watching a rubber band, and the ways she contorts her thin body appear almost painful. But I shouldn’t be commenting since I am about as flexible as a board. The American men are even less challenging, and Russian Evgeny Pluschenko should have another easy season of victories, if his knee can heal. Pairs skating is my favorite, but here again Americans are weak. My only hope would be to spy the Chinese champions at any international competitions. Sometimes though only the men and women single skaters appear on the TV time.

But this year, I think that, for the first time in a while, the skating itself won’t be that exciting to me. Instead it will be snuggling with my family on the futon, holding the girls, spending the time enjoying the shows together. We’re asking Abigail questions about the commercials, to see what she understands. It’s fun to dialogue with her about what she thinks. Since we’re studying maps, we’re also discussing where these skaters live and where the competitions are. The girls cuddle in our laps. We hug each other. We relax. Maybe make a comment or two about the skating, wince or laugh. We enjoy a fun family time for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Here’s the schedule , if anyone else is interested, which Sundays we’ll be snuggling on the sofa together…..

Tags: family

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia A. Taylor // Oct 26, 2003 at 3:00 pm

    Ice skating, really figure skating, has always been a favorite of mine. I had my very own white leather figure skates given to me by Dad when I was a young girl. In New England, we could skate on the frozen ponds, and here in Charlottesville, VA, we have a local rink downtown on the walking mall. Perhaps, I shall take it up again. Memories!

  • 2 Sally // Mar 13, 2004 at 11:56 am

    Dear Julie-
    I am a journalist in Seattle who needs to profile a few homeschool parents for a magazine article in ParentMap (a monthly).
    Would you be willing to tell me why your family chose homeschooling and a little about yourselves?
    my email is sjames@nasw.org