Friday, July 11, 2008

Tales From The "Up and Down" Girl

First off, a correction: the link I posted last week to Janet Lynn’s marvelous speech does not appear to work anymore. If you were looking for it, give this link a try instead.

It’s Janet’s heir to the throne I wanted to mention today. I’m winding my way through Dorothy Hamill’s recent book release A Skating Life: My Story, and I thought it served as a good excuse to make her infamous 1974 Worlds pre-performance “meltdown” a
Clip of the Day.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not poking fun at the incident at all. Anyone who knows my propensity to cry at the drop of a Kleenex commercial would call me back ten yards if I even hinted a grin over the “trauma” Hamill experienced in those minutes just prior to her silver medal-winning performance. I thought it would be interesting, though, to run the clip alongside her comments about it in her book:

I was dealing with the hormonal mood swings of teenagedom, a family who was sacrificing their last dime to keep me here, and a mother too clinically depressed to find any happiness in my success. It’s no wonder that I had an emotional moment of discomposure right on the ice at Worlds…

“The event was in Munich, Germany, and I didn’t know the crowd was supporting their German skater (due to low marks she’d received). They announced my name and the boos got louder and louder. So I thought it was because of me! I broke down in tears and skated off the ice… some in the crowd must have seen how upset I was. Suddenly the booing turned to cheers… I took a deep breath, composing myself… I skated well enough to earn the silver medal, second to Christine Errath of East Germany

Do you think her recollection would be even more interesting if it had Dick Button popping in every now and again, saying things like “That’s what happens when you’re an ‘up and down’ girl” and chiding her (however mildly) for being “emotional”?

Or might it just spark someone to say in an older, wiser time, “Let’s hear a little more about that family history of clinical depression”…

Which she does expand on in the book, by the way. It’s an enjoyable read thus far, albeit very sad and frustrating in parts. Have you read it yet? If so, what did you think of it?

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