Dreams do come true for Olympic hopefuls
Next week the nation’s finest skaters will descend on Boston for the US Figure Skating Championships.. Every four years this competition deterimines who will make the United States Olympic Figure Skating Team. It will be the most important competition in figure skating since the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
There are always certain “givens” regarding who makes the team. When I competed in 1976, there was no doubt Dorothy Hamill would travel to Innsbruck, Austria as America’s number one skater. The pair team of Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner were also locks. Then there were those “expected” to make it. Ice dancers Colleen O’Connor and Jim Milns were America’s best hope for an Olympic medal in that event, and they came home with the bronze. 16 year old Linda Fratianne had something Dorothy didn’t- triple jumps. She was in for sure.
Then there are the skaters that have a slim chance, like Cook and Fauver.
My partner Bill and I had only been skating as a pair team for less than two years. We were 5th at the US Nationals the year before and every team that placed ahead of us was coming back. On top of that, the United States was only sending two pair teams that year. Our chances were basically nil.
With the pressure off, Bill and I skated our best short program ever at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Other teams made mistakes, which is killer in the short program, and we shockingly ended up in second place going into the final.
The point spread was tight enough for the teams in 3rd and 4th place teams to catch us with a strong performance in the long.
For 24 hours Bill and I sat in second place, although we knew the chances were still slim that we would remain there.
We were the first to go in the final group and were happy to skate clean. Then we watched. Tai and Randy were next. The skated wonderfully and received marks that no one would surpass. Both teams chasing us did not have their best night. The scores came up after each team skated, although would know the final results for what seemed an eternity.
Back in those days the results were not instant. There were actual accountants sitting in a room adding up the scores. It would take 20 minutes after the event ended for that scoreboard to light up.
And there it was.
The screaming, hugging, crying and laughing that followed will never be equaled in my life. My mom, my family, my friends were astonished. It was so unexpected, so thrilling and just so- yes, unbelievable.
We were going to the Olympics. The Olympics.
It happens every four years, and we will see it happen here in Boston. A skater will come out of nowhere and defy the odds. Anything can happen, and it will.
Dreams will come true- and a few will be completely unexpected.