Note: As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The high today was 27 degrees. Why, might you ask, would I—who, hating both heights and the cold, am clearly not a skier—leave sunny California, where the low today was 57 degrees, to come to a place whose nickname is, as far as I can tell, “Land of Nothing”? Answer: Skating! This year Mark made it to the national championships for his skill level. That competition, scheduled by people whose ancestors were clearly polar bears, was in Minnesota in January, where the temperate rarely climbed above zero and was, at one point, colder than Antarctica (I’m not even joking). Anyway, there was a pairs coach there who fell in love with Mark (not literally)(I assume). She is based here in Colorado Springs, home of the US Olympic training facility, and wanted him to come out to see if they could work together with a female skater she had in mind. Depending on how this weekend goes, Mark might be moving out here in the next few months to begin his life as a potential Olympian in earnest. Stay tuned …
But this is not that story. This is the story of how it all began …
People ask me how Mark got into figure skating. The long, scientific answer is: “I don’t know.”
Unlike Daveon, who played baseball for years, and then switched to cross-country and track for the last several, Mark flitted from activity to activity every few months. From day 1 until about 7th grade, he tried: swimming, gymnastics, ultimate Frisbee, baseball (a disaster—he clearly hated it, though he wouldn’t quit for reasons I still don’t understand), basketball, capoeira, soccer, and a few others I’m sure I’m forgetting.
But somewhere along the line he happened into skating, and—for reasons I still don’t understand—among all the “activity of the month” options, this one stuck.
There is one story I like to tell that maybe gives a clue as to Mark’s bond with the rink. When they were little, I took the boys to Toy Story on Ice. (One perk of fost-to-adopt: During the “fost” period, you get free tickets to just about anything and everything kid-related.) A few months later, we rented Toy Story 2 on DVD (see: Movie Night). About halfway through, Mark started crying. Bawling, actually.
There didn’t seem to be anything particularly sad going on in the movie at that moment, so I asked what was wrong.
He practically shouted: “They’re supposed to be on skates!”
For the record, Mark says his interest was piqued the night we watched Ice Castles (see: Movie Night). But I’m pretty sure that was well after he had already started training. From my end, I’m just planning to thank Pixar when Mark brings home Olympic gold.
Next: Skating, Part 2