Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mom and the 2002 Champions on Ice Olympic Tour

While I was in Las Vegas just over a week ago, the 2018 Winter Olympics began. One night as my wife was watching the prelims of the figure skating competition, she texted me to say that she had thought about my mother while watching the skaters.

My mom, for as long as I can remember, was an figure skating addict. Growing up outside Chicago, we often turned on the television to watch the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks and a number of regional college teams in many sports. It was not unusual on a Saturday afternoon to hear my mom say "Can you please turn on the figure skating?" If there was a competition on, she would watch it. The look on her face when I told her that I met Scott Hamilton in a hotel on a trip to watch the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament ...

Shortly after the 2002 Winter Olympics that were held in Salt Lake City, I saw an advertisement for a skating tour that would be coming through central Illinois: The John Hancock 2002 Champions on Ice Olympic Tour. It would be featuring the top figure skaters in the world and would be in town about two weeks before Mothers Day. I got four tickets for myself, my mom, my wife and her mother. We invited both mothers down for the weekend -- one of the few times they had actually ever spent any time together, making for a very special few days.

I'll never forget as we walked down to our seats in Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois -- April 29, 2002. I was fortunate to get fantastic tickets. We kept getting closer ... and closer ... until were in our seats in the first row on the main floor. The look on my mom's face when the skaters came out to warm up was unbelievable. It was like watching a kid open his presents on Christmas morning. All these skaters that my mom had watched in the Olympics and over the past few years were all skating a few feet from her. It was a great show featuring a wonderful line up of skaters:

*  Sarah Hughes
*  Michelle Kwan
*  Irina Slutskaya
*  Alexei Yagudin
*  Timothy Goebel
*  Sasha Cohen
*  Evgeni Plushenko
*  Elvis Stojko
*  Michael Weiss
*  Victor Petrenko
*  Philippe Candeloro
*  Rudy Galindo
*  Surya Bonaly
*  Nicole Bobek
*  Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat
*  Naomi Lang & Peter Tchernyshev
*  Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz
*  Oksana Kazakova & Artur Dmitriev
*  Isabelle Brasseur & Lloyd Eisler
*  Elizabeth Punsalan & Jerod Swallow

With so many skaters, it was a long, wonderful, exciting show. And really, it was pretty cool being so close to the ice and watching all the jumps and turns from a few feet away. For my mom, it was pretty much the show of a lifetime. It was gratifying to hear her say many times that that night was one she will never forget.

My mom passed away in 2016. Even as I watch Olympic figure skaters  this weekend, things just aren't the same. If you ever have that chance to do something really special for your mother (or father), do not even think twice about it. It will serve you with memories that will last long after any show or event.



Blogger thundering36 said...

When I turned on the TV this morning the Women's Figure Skating Short Program was on. I turned mum's photo toward the TV so she could watch. But where was Kristi Yamaguchi? :)

Mum never forgot the skating performance present, even up to the end. Memory eternal.

4:40 AM  
Blogger seattleirish said...

One of my favorite posts of yours, 36.


3:50 PM  

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