For all the talk of her spins and her musicality, one thing Lucinda Ruh was never known for was her jumping prowess. To this day, fans remember her doing triple toes, triple salchows, and the occasional triple loop. But in her memoir, Frozen Teardrop, Ruh talks about her brief time in China when everything clicked for her jumps.
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Related: Part 2: A beautiful addiction
My conversation with Ruh moves on to her stay in China and the impact that her coach at the time had on the rest of her life.
Jackie Wong: One of the things that fans will be intrigued about, and they will find out a number of things that they don’t know about you in this book, was the fact that when you moved to Harbin to train, that you got all your triples, you were working on triple-triples. And I think the general skating fan … I’m not sure if anybody in those days, when there wasn’t YouTube, really knew that you could do more than a triple loop.
Lucinda Ruh: Yeah, like the little cheated triple loop? When I was little, jumps were easy for me, very easy. I never missed a double, when I was doing doubles when I was little. And then, as I grew older, I think it was a mixture of … you know, the abuse was starting to get really bad, as well, so there was a fear of that mixed with, I think, I wasn’t really taught [how to jump] for me. I probably wasn’t taught the right way. And I just never was able to grasp it. But there landing all the triples, it was, for me, in my own little world, it was just incredible because I achieved it.
And unfortunately, many people are like, “You moved so many times, you had so many coaches, you’re just going from one coach to another.” And I’m like, “You have no idea why or how I had to change coaches.” It wasn’t really because I wanted to – I wasn’t that type that would want to move and have a different coach all the time. It was just unlucky circumstances.
The Chinese coach was my savior. If I would’ve stayed with him, I probably would’ve been able to do all through lutz in the competitions. It probably wasn’t my destiny, it wasn’t meant to be. But if we had YouTube back then …
JW: Speaking of that, there was that competition … probably the Karl Schafer [Memorial] back in ’96, where you said that your coach then had choreographed your program so that it was three minutes of non-jumping and then a minute and a half of jumps. In skating choreographic theory, that’s really cool. Definitely not the most practical thing in the world. Do you look back at that and think, “What was he thinking?”
LR: Well, yeah, you can think, “Oh my god, what was he thinking?” But I look at it like, “Wow, that was such an amazing experience.” I mean, who else would’ve had that experience? Not that many skaters.
But for me, I was young and maybe it was wrong of them to impose it on me since I was just a child. But in a way, it was, wow, I learned so much and it’s added to my personality and to my whole life that I can carry with me. So it was really two minutes of … it was beautiful, but it was kind of impossible to do the jumps after that. It’s a wonderful story to tell.
JW: The Chinese coach, the coach who you bonded with the most … have you been in touch with him?
LR: Oh yeah, we’re like best of friends. Like I said in the book, I had moved them over to America. I had given them a whole life in America, which they’re … I think they’re thankful for. Yeah, we keep in touch all the time. They come to my home, we have parties together. They are my best friends.
JW: That’s good to hear. That was something that, toward the end, you just kind of wondered what happened to that relationship. It really seemed like that was the healthiest coach-pupil relationship that you had.
LR: Yeah, definitely, it was wonderful. What I was still struggling through in skating is like, “God, you gave me such a wonderful coach,” and even that he had to take away from me. That’s how I felt, like, “Why can’t I just be with him?” We are still very good friends.
I still really appreciate that time even though it was short. I was in Japan a lot longer than I was in China, but for me, how he treated me, how he taught me, how he was almost like a father figure to me, I’ll just appreciate it for my whole life. And I think he’s appreciated what I’ve done for him and his family. We are very good friends, very close.
NEXT: Part 4: Coach and student
Two-time World professional bronze medalist Lucinda Ruh’s book, Frozen Teardrop, comes out on November 1st.
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