This book was inspired by my work for the NY Times covering figure skating at the height of its popularity. I discovered there were injustices and secrets that needed to be addressed, so I tried to be the voice for those who dared not speak. I warned of the dangers of the unbridled power of officials. The relentless pressure on and abuse of the skaters. The flat out cheating. Figure skating fans are among the most intense and loyal in all of sports. But they, as well as the millions of people around the world who watched and enjoyed the competitions would become disillusioned and no longer follow what they now knew was a scripted,
pre-determined outcome. And they did.
Skating is trying to rehabilitate its image. It still has a long way to go. What happens on the ice is magical. What happens off the ice is sometimes unspeakable. Delve into what until now was a secret world. Read The Chosen Ones. I dare you to think of skating in the same way again.
Robby sat up, hoping she didn’t realize that every movement of her supple body was arousing him.
“Skating’s not the worst life,” he said.
“Yeah. Look what it’s done for you,” Paige shot back.
“You’re not exactly a bundle of laughs either.”
“At least I finally have a life. I have friends who can carry on a conversation without once mentioning the word ice. Believe it or not, I can actually go for an entire hour without even thinking about it.”
“Maybe that’s why you never won.”
“Depends on your definition of victory,” she countered. “Why did you start skating?”
“Didn’t you hear a word I just said?”
“Just answer the question and then I’ll drop the subject,” he promised.
“How did I get into it?” she shot back. “Like a lot of people. An ice show came to town. There was a woman. She had the most incredible costume. Beads and feathers everywhere. I don’t remember who she was or what music she skated to. The thing that impressed me was her face. From the minute she stepped on the ice, she had this huge smile. Maybe it was an act, but to a six-year-old... So, I figured all it took to be happy was a pair of skates. God, kids are so dumb.”
“There’s nothing dumb about wanting to be happy.”
A car alarm went off down the street causing them to take a breath.
“So, are you? Happy?” he asked.
“Completely. Call me crazy, but I kind of like not having my mistakes flashed on a scoreboard.”
“Is that all it meant to you?” he asked.
“It’s not real!” she shouted, jumping to her feet. “Kids acting like adults. Expectations nobody could live up to. Constantly being criticized by coaches and judges and at the same time getting adulation from an audience that doesn’t know its ass from an Ina Bauer. It’s a miracle we all don’t need shrinks. You can look in a mirror and think you’re the ugliest person alive, but the minute you step on that ice with the costumes and lights... it’s a drug. We’re selling a fantasy, and what’s worse, we buy into it ourselves.”
“What’s wrong with that?
“Nothing for the people who make it to the top. What about the rest of us? What have we got to show for it?”
She sank into a wicker chair and slung a well-tanned leg over one armrest. He noticed her red toe-nail polish.
“You want to know the difference between us? I’d guess you got a haircut about a week ago,” Paige said, scanning his face.
“Me too. You know why? Because I wanted to.”
“So did I.”
“Baloney. You did it because you’re afraid. You did it because you’re worried about what a judge might think.”
He didn’t answer.
“Tenths, baby,” she said, clenching her fist. “Tenths. Don’t want to lose those precious tenths.”
“Does that make me a wimp?” She glared back at him.
“You can stop acting tough. I don’t believe it for a minute,” he said.
“I’ve changed. Does that scare you?”
“Well, when you have a different answer, we'll talk.”