Parents must also pay a price for their children's skating success and, too often, this is divorce. Ginny Fratianne got up for years at 3.45 am to chauffeur her daughter, Linda, sometimes driving as much as 100 miles a day shuttling between three ice rinks and a dance studio. When Linda, then sixteen, won the World Championship in 1977 in spite of a viral infection, her father proudly wore a pin declaring he was Father of the Champion. However, the strain on her home life grew. Fratianne said his daughter's coach saw more of Ginny than he did. Divorce was the outcome.
Most families do muddle through, breathing a sigh of relief when their offsprings competitive days are over. When the three-time British champion Yvonne Sugden retired at the advanced age of sixteen in 1956, she explained that part of her problem was that her mother had to accompany her abroad for two months of the year just when her father's career was at its busiest and he needed her support the most. Dorothy Hamills mother spent five years in a commuter marriage, back and forth between Denver, where her daughter trained, and her husband on the East Coast. To add to her isolation, Fassi, her coach, would not let her into the ice rink when Dorothy was training or when she was competing.
The sacrifice is compounded when the child does not succeed. No one can teach determination, and yet this is a vital part of the make-up of any champion. Trixie Schuba of Austria, who won the World title twice, was said to have all the grace of a camel. Yet she was determined to succeed. As a free skater she was merely adequate, and so she worked on her school figures with such an intensity that her technique was acclaimed as far beyond that of her rivals. Her mind was completely oblivious to anything but her slowly traced circles. Having built her lead in this initial section, she controlled her nerves to give the best free-skating performance she could and won the 1972 Olympic gold medal. Skating to The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha she achieved what for many was impossible. Very few people would have bet on her success, but she herself never wavered from the belief that she could do it.
The Uneven Path To Glory
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Chapter 3
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