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Skating

The figure-skating and ice dance are Olympic sports, and yeah, the skaters are absolutely amazing to watch. The only thing is, they and their routines have never stuck in my mind quite as clearly as an amateur skater.

I doubt that girl was more than fourteen; dressed in the bulkiness of January-cold-snap-parkas and a silly woolen hat, she was in the middle of one of those awful community outdoor skating rinks. The ones that people spray in the middle of a field with water, and don't use the zamboni--they just push the snow off with shovels, and leave you to deal with the crevasses. It was the winter festival thing, and there were skaters of all ages--little boys with their tiny hockey skates pushing chairs to keep their balance, their fathers skating calmly backwards and keeping an eye on them, people between the ages of six and sixty, going around and around the oval.

I think she was practicing a waltz jump. It was obvious she hadn't much practice; there wasn't the liquid movement that repeated practices makes. But what struck me was that though her jump wasn't perfect, wasn't wrapped-and-tied-up-in-a-pretty-bow, it was real and I could see that she'd get it eventually. Even though there was a clear hesitation in her movements, you could also see the grace in the jump. Perfection can be dulling. But that jump she kept practicing, again and again, began to show that elegance that's so cherished in skating.

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