When I was a kid, I spent a few years as a figure skater. My parents wanted me to grow up as well rounded as possible, and they put me in tons of different activities so that I could figure out what I truly enjoyed (horses, mom… it was always the horses).
Anyway, I enjoyed skating at the Winter Club, but mostly because I really loved our skating instructor Mrs. Silverthorn. She was strict and precise, but also someone who made you want to work your ass off to impress.
I found a write up on her on Wikipedia. There was one way I knew she was “famous”, but I didn’t realize she had competed in the olympics.
Winifred Ellen “Winnie” Silverthorne (3 March 1925 – 7 March 1998) was a British pair skater who competed with her brother Dennis Silverthorne. The pair won the silver medal at the 1947 European Figure Skating Championships and finished fourth at that year’s World Figure Skating Championships. They then finished fifth at the 1948 Winter Olympics and sixth at that year’s World Championships. She was born in Brighton, England. (From Wikipedia)
So, how did I know she was famous? Well, along with us regular students, she had a student who had become quite famous. Brian Pockar was not only a talented figure skater, but many of us young girls were quite giggly about his good looks.
One day we showed up for our lesson, and there was someone skating solo in the rink with Mrs. Silverthorn. We stood there and watched as we realized it was her prior student, now an Olympic level skater. And as he finished his skate, we were allowed to start our warmup in the corner while we watched.
I love watching people who are good at their sport, or really good at anything they do. The grace and ease with which he moved on the ice was quite fantastic. And we watched his coach (who was also our coach) beam with pride, I realized how talented this instructor was that I’d lucked into getting.
Sometimes it’s inspiring just being around greatness, and there was a lot of it at that rink.
Now I’m a non skater, one level down from being an awful skater. Whatever talent I had seems to have vanished with the years, but I do have fond memories of the rink.