She was always something of a cultish figure. The rise of Lucinda Ruh came about not because she was winning World and Olympic medals. In fact, her highest placement at Worlds was 13th. No, it was something more intangible. She towered above most of her competitors. Add the flexibility, combine that with a great command of the ice, and top it off with supermodel-esque limbs and facial features, and she was a skater you couldn’t take your eyes off of.
And we haven’t even talked about the spinning.
Twitter @examinerskating | Facebook
Ruh is the greatest spinner in the history of skating. The “pancake” spin that some many skaters have managed to adulterate these days? She made it popular, and she did it with panache. Add to the list a good number of other spins she invented during the 90s that have become standard practice for high-level spins in the current judging system.
But it goes beyond subjectivity – she actually holds a world record in spinning, for the most number of continuous revolutions done on one foot (115). Of course, it’s a bit of a requirement if you are from Switzerland to be an incredible spinner (see Denise Biellmann, Stephane Lambiel, Nathalie Krieg). But what some fans don’t know about Ruh is that she hasn’t lived much in Switzerland at all, which just adds to the intrigue that is Lucinda Ruh.
Her new book, Frozen Teardrop, goes into territories about figure skating that most people would not dare put down on paper. It is a raw chronicle of her skating life, from coaching nightmares to physical abuse to skating politics. Ruh writes that she never viewed herself as an athlete, rather an artist creating paintings on the ice.
Examiner Figure Skating caught up with Ruh for a chat about her memoir. This is the first of a five-part interview where Ruh talks about everything from spinning to triple-triples to the current judging system to Dick Button.
Jackie Wong: Hi, Lucinda. Thanks for taking your time today to talk to me about your book.
Lucinda Ruh: No problem, my pleasure.
JW: It’s really great to have a chance to talk to you about the memoir and also what you hope to accomplish by writing the book. You write at the beginning of your memoir, “This book is my humble attempt to silence the demons and free the angels.” And I think fans who are expecting your run-of-the-mill skating story sprinkled with a couple of obstacles here and there to make it interesting would kind of be a little shocked, maybe. And your book is definitely a lot more substantive than the average skating autobiography. So can you talk a little bit about it?
LR: Yeah, of course. First of all, did you like it? Did you like how it was written? Did it intrigue you?
JW: Yeah, I read it in about a three-, four-hour sitting.
LR: Oh, really? You couldn’t put it down?
JW: Well, it was one of those books that I had originally opened it thinking, “Oh, I’m gonna start reading a couple chapters.” And then every chapter, it was just … I kind of wanted to know more and to know more. Your story takes a lot of twists and turns, that’s for sure.
LR: Yeah, definitely. Well, you know, that was really why I wanted to write my book because I think my story has been so unique. And first of all, why I wanted to write it was because so much of my story has gone untold. You know, a lot of people are going to think, “Oh, it’s a skating story … you go to this competition and you placed fifth and you did this jump,” and that’s something I so did not want to write about.
And second of all, that’s so not what my life was about. I never said as a young child, “I’m going to be an Olympic champion, I’m going to be the World champion.” That was never my goal. My goal was always to do something in the world that nobody has done before. My dad came to me when I was about seven or eight years old and he said, “That’s how you’re going to leave your mark in the world is to do something that nobody else has done.” So that was so engrained in me that that was my goal, so I had the spins and I was more of an artist. I was a painter on the ice.
And of course, my whole life, of where I lived and how things led from one thing to another just became such a unique and diverse experience. And I had this journey that was extremely beautiful and extremely harsh, and I just felt compelled to share this story with everyone. I thought there were a lot of life lessons in it and, of course, a lot of life lessons I have learned.
So I just felt compelled to write it and talk about it, because a lot of my fans know about my spins. But how I got my spins or why I lived in so many countries or why I had so many coaches, really nobody knows. It was such a small world between my mother and I, and that was it and we hid everything else from the whole world, so I just felt it was time to say it and tell it.
JW: Right, and obviously, you’re hoping that, by telling your journey, you’d be able to really get other people in … it’d be tough to find somebody in the same situation, but …
LR: Yeah, I think exactly the same situation is going to be really tough, but I’m sure people can relate to certain circumstances. It’s kind of like telling people to watch out for these different things that can happen. And really, I think the most important thing I wanted to point out is that the most important relationship you will have in life is the one with yourself. And if you really don’t master that one, you’re not going to be able to master anything else. And I had not mastered that, I was not taught or I was not … I was always a fish out of water, I was always living in a foreign country, I always had to conform to every other culture and never really could be myself, and so I had won with the spins in my way.
I had the spins that were kind of one of a kind, yet I had lost myself. I didn’t even know who I was, so who did I really win for in the end? I wasn’t even there, so I’ve just lost everything.
NEXT: Part 2: A beautiful addiction
Two-time World professional bronze medalist Lucinda Ruh’s book, Frozen Teardrop, comes out on November 1st.
Follow Jackie for breaking news on Twitter or on Facebook. Keep up with the latest results and analyses of the Grand Prix Series by subscribing for the latest news.
More Figure Skating Examiner news