Figure Skating, like it's summer Olympics cousin Gymnastics, is the sport Filipinos seem to become experts in when the Winter Olympics comes around. When it was Winter Olympics time it mean Figure Skating. The US athletes like Kristy Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano go hand in hand with international figure skaters like Katerina Witt, Viktor Petrenko, and Surya Bonaly. These were the faces of Winter Olympics for my childhood. Figure skating took precedence over any other winter sport. Which sucked because I am partial to a good hockey game.
Watching figure skating means color commentary from my parents. If a skater fell, it was over. If they were stiff and had precision but no grace, mom immediately wrote them off. If they weren't Kristy Yamaguchi, mom wrote them off for many years because Kristy Yamaguchi was the queen of ice skating. Although she did enjoy Katerina Witt. She was graceful on the ice. I learned the words "triple lutz/sowcow/axel" and that meant you were going to win if you could land them. The hamill camel is one of my favorites a) because it rhymes, b) it's a pretty sick move, and c) Dorothy Hamill rocked the shit out of that pageboy haircut.
I recall the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan fiasco with boredom. Sure it was salacious but I recall my parents being utterly bored. Neither skater was worth cheering on. I think Mom enjoyed Nancy Kerrigan's elegance on the ice, but in the way only a blunt Filipino mom could (because all Filipino mothers are experts at throwing shade) she would state, "She's not that pretty..."
Blades of Glory is a close second on top ice skating movies, but The Cutting Edge always takes it with it's epic 90s-ness
My friends back then were a United Colors of Benneton bunch. I was the Filipino girl. Pinky was the Thai girl. Jen was the Hawaiian girl, although I thought she was really Filipino and just said Hawaiian. Janell and Kim were the black girls. Lori was the white girl. Kelly was the blonde girl. Irene was the Russian girl. Her older cousin who also went to our school was also a figure skater. They would have to go to practice after school and before Irene's mom would pick her up she would have her ice skating outfit under her clothes. Her cousin would also have an outfit on too. My oblivious nerd girl brain made the assumption RUSSIAN equals ICE SKATING.
When I told my parents about Irene, they shrugged their shoulders like it made sense. When I asked if I could do something like that, they sat me down in front of the tv and let me watch figure skating on tv. After school activities beyond afternoon TV did not exist in the oblivious nerd girl house. Figure skating was out. Karate lessons were out. The only thing that I ever did after school was piano lessons, which I sucked at.
It wasn't until years later when I met a Russian kid in college, that I finally realized how ridiculous my assumption was. I even asked, "Were you an ice skater?" and as the words came out of my mouth I smacked myself in the head. I had to explain why I asked the question I was faced with laughter. It was simply another notch in my obliviousness.