INSIDE EDGE: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating by Christine Brennan

INSIDE EDGE: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A mix of giddy admiration and honest reporting that's as wobbly as a junior skater attempting a triple flip. Brennan, a sports reporter for the Washington Post, organizes her book around the cycle of one competitive year, yet the narrative is all over the place, jumping from quick portraits of various up-and-coming skaters, such as 12-year-old media darling Tara Lipinski, to the effect of AIDS on the skating community, to sometimes fawning, sometimes critical, sometimes informative portraits of stars such as Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt. The chapter focusing on the 1995 US national and world championship competitions has the momentum and drama that show what this book might have been. Here Brennan follows some of the top junior and senior amateur skaters as they fall prey to, or triumph over, the vicissitudes of competition and the prevailing attitudes of judges. One of the most poignant losers is 14-year-old Michelle Kwan, who skated two flawless programs at the World's yet finished in fourth place. ""The only thing Kwan couldn't do in front of the judges was grow up and become sixteen, which is what they were waiting for,"" Brennan sharply concludes. Brennan does convey the upheaval wrought in the skating world by the sport's newfound popularity and notoriety: intense media attention, the lure of big dollars; the rush of agents to cash in on a new group of sports celebrities. But Brennan is much more forgiving than Joan Ryan (Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, p. 542) of those who control the fates of these young athletes. After pointedly reporting the frequent injustice of the judges, Brennan then protests that, after all, they are only human. Ironically, she is harder on the skaters, who divide into good girls and boys (e.g., Kwan, Todd Eldredge) and bad (Nicole Bobek, Christopher Bowman). Best read both Ryan and Brennan for a balanced picture of a grueling yet beautiful sport.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Scribner