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Jul. 6 2009 - 9:05 pm | 1,862 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

Nicole Bobek behind bars?

bobekNews broke earlier today that 1995 U.S. national champion Nicole Bobek  made her first appearance in a New Jersey court via video link from the Hudson County jail.  Bobek is being charged on a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and according to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, Bobek played a “significant role” in the operation.

To some this may come as a shock.  To others who know Bobek as the “wild child” of figure skating, this may not be so shocking.  For someone who possessed such grace and style on the ice, Nicole has constantly struggled to keep a similar image off the ice.   

Over a decade ago, in the midst of her rise to skating fame, Bobek suffered a few minor run-ins with the law including a charge for illegally entering the home of a fellow skater.  Later she explained it was all just a missunderstanding, but the  situation raised flags, as it’s not often we see an ice queen (apart from Tonya Harding) having to deal with these types of struggles.

Nicole, though, was able to rebound and has always proven herself as one who rose above controversy.  One of her greatest supporters, her former coach Carlo Fassi, died in the midst of the 1997 world championships.  Bobek was able to finish the competition and skated in his honor.  She had a smile that could light up the entire arena, and star quality for days. 

However, Bobek had some weak points to her skating.  She was constantly switching coaches during her career, perhaps searching for that “magic touch.”  Richard Callaghan, her coach in 1995, was able to instill a better work ethic in Nicole resulting in her national title, but she continually struggled with her consistency and the dedication to training that was needed to take her to the next level.  Making the Olympic team in 1998 was a huge victory for Bobek, but she wasn’t able to carry that moment through to her performances at the Games.  She struggled and placed 17th.

Since 1998, Bobek has toured a bit, but in recent years she has been relatively unheard from.  Perhaps without skating to keep her occupied, she turned down the wrong path.  It’s heartbreaking to see a person with so much beauty and talent potentially facing up to 10 years in prison.  Her bail is currently set at $200,000. 

I was friendly with Nicole on tour, and on a personal note, I’m saddened to see her facing these struggles.  She was an incredibly talented skater, and someone I looked up to growing up in the sport.  Hopefully she will be able to take the next few years to turn her life around, and perhaps one day we will see her beautiful spiral and elegance back on the ice.  When she was “on,” she was truly breathtaking. 


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    I was saddened to hear the news too, Jennifer. These charges are very serious and I hope they’re not true, however if they are in fact true I will be very disappointed. Methamphetamine is a very dangerous drug, and those who distribute or produce the drug are not only engaging in criminal acts but are doing great harm to society. AIDS is a global pandemic and new strains of the virus that are resistant to treatments are being discovered quite frequently and are sometimes due to drugs like meth. Not to digress, but because meth is a popular party drug in the gay club circuit and seriously clouds one’s judgment, HIV positive men have had unprotected sex over and over again reinfecting one another with the virus causing these “super” strains of HIV that can kill a newly infected human being in under a year. It is very difficult to “contain” these strains once they have been discovered, but meth is not helping the situation. I hope for her sake that these charges are not true, and if they are I hope she would be made aware of the serious harm that can come from the drug.

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    Hi Jenny.

    I have to say first, that you were one of my very favorite skaters, and I’m really glad that I found your blog here. You seem wise way beyond your years in the way that you talk about yourself, and Nicole. When I first heard about this, I was so shocked and disappointed with her. Then a couple days later I saw the mug shot. It looks like she’s also using, and because of that I am giving her just a bit of a break. I once heard a speaker at a an open meeting say, “Recovering from drugs and alcohol is a tough fight. Out of all of us who take on that fight, about 90% of us lose it.”

    She was also one of my favorite skaters. I still have the recording of her when I first saw her. She was about 15-16, and the show was called, “Nancy and Her friends” It was a show for Nancy Kerrigan, designed to prop up Nancy’s confidence for the upcoming ‘94 Games. It was taped after Nancy recovered from the Harding knee whack. Nicole was just so full of life, charm, spunk, and daring. As soon as I saw her, I knew she would be one of the true Ice Divas. Such a show person! She would even blow kisses at the judges. It was a wonderful first performance in front of a few million people, with that spiral, and a spirit to die for. I’ve always pulled for her to get as far as she could get in any competition, and now this.

    I think part of my problem with her is me. I have a tendency to put famous skaters, actors, and musicians up on a bit of a pedestal, while I really do know that they are only human. If I may say this…… to get as far as you and Nicole have, I think it takes more than tons of hard work. It also takes a gift from a higher source. I hope she can tap that source to get on the road to recovery.

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    Hi Jennifer,

    First of all, I am just sick about Nicole. I knew her really well when she was quite young and I couldn’t possibly have loved her more.

    I wanted to point out one thing that people tend not to realize. You mentioned that frequently changing coaches was a weakness of hers. It did impact her skating, but Nicole never had a say in which coach she was going to work with, at least not before the age of 17, during the years I knew her. Her mother and Joyce made those decisions without consulting Nicole. They had something in mind that they wanted in a coach and they kept trying to find that person. They once picked Nicole up at the rink and said they were moving, and Nicole didn’t even get the opportunity to say goodbye to her coach, and yet she was blamed by sportswriters for making the change. I’ve seen it written so many times that she was always changing coaches as though it was her fault, and it never was. I just wanted to point that out. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

    Kerry

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    About Me

    I’m originally from Boston, living in LA, with a passion for the world of figure skating. During my career on the ice, I was a world junior champion, a five-time U.S. national medalist, and a three-time world team member. Since retiring from the sport, I have dedicated myself to attaining my college degree with a major in broadcast journalism. I’m looking forward to sharing my views on the ins and outs of the skating world, along with my opinions and thoughts on various issues coming from the ice. I welcome you to my blog!

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