Friday, January 27, 2012

Sights and sounds from the US Figure Skating Championships

A skating fan’s dream: to be in a crowded elevator stuck between Peggy Fleming and Brian Boitano.

The only thing is…it isn’t a dream.
It really happened to me last night after the Opening Ceremonies at the US Figure Skating Championships.
I guess I should back up a bit to share with you all how I got in that corner of the elevator squeezed between these two all-time greats.
As the co-captain of the media room many different activities get thrown my way during any given day. I joke that I never know what my day will look like when I walk through the black curtain separating the media relations and communications team of the US Figure Skating Association and the media or the curtain separating the skaters’ lounge from the copy center. The other day I had to make the Sharks Ice run—taking the draws, judges sheets, and results to get posted at the practice ice.
On Thursday night my co-captain, Ginna, and I got the plum assignment of escorting former skating champions from the Bay Area to the press for interviews prior to the Opening Ceremonies.
And, yes, I did have the honor of escorting Peggy Fleming and her husband, Dr. Greg Jenkins. And, if you read my post from the other day, you will know that Peggy is in my top three all-time favorite women skaters. So, as you can imagine, it really was special to meet her. And, no I am not one to be star struck. After all, I have interviewed numerous athletes as a sports writer from Grant Hill to Edwin Moses. But, for a moment or two, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening and I just had to compose myself.
The other skaters who were honored were Brian Boitano, Debi Thomas, Rudy Galindo, Charlie Tickner, and Kristi Yamaguchi. Kristi had a prior engagement and wasn’t able to attend, however she was at the event earlier in the week watching the Ladies Novice competition.
At the Opening Ceremonies Rudy Galindo was the only one to skate a short routine. The others skated to center ice and to their spots. Karen Chen, the 2012 US National Ladies Novice Champ skated on Kristi’s behalf. Many young kids from the area also skated. Afterwards, I caught up with Rudy and thanked him for skating for us. He lit up, as only Rudy can do, and shook my hand. Clearly, he appreciated being recognized. He coaches now and doesn’t skate too much these days. You couldn’t tell by the way he performed. He was great.
So, we are almost at the elevator.
As I was getting ready to head up to the seats to watch the senior women’s short program competition, a coach needed to be escorted to the area where the skaters were who performed in the Opening Ceremonies. A job of a volunteer captain is never done. As we walked just about all the way around the ice, near the Zambonis, we found them. The kids were getting group photos taken with the former champs. I stood and watched for a while and as they broke up, I headed back around to the elevators.
As I came up to the elevator…there they were…Debi, Brian, and Peggy. We must have squeezed 15 people in a 10 person elevator. And, I was in the back next to Brian with Peggy and her flowers squeezed in tight. With Brian joking about getting stuck in elevator…
...and I was thinking…so this is what Brian Boitano does!