Nicole Bobek behind bars?
News 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.