Since the age of three, Jackie has always been a girl with unfailing determination to become the best figure skater in the world. Awestruck as Tara Lipinski won the 1999 Metabolife World Professional Figure Skating Championship, the toddler sat in the middle of a soft shaggy carpet contemplating her future as professional figure skater. In a serious adult like approach, Jackie looked her mother in the eye and said, “I will beat her someday.” Every day since, her focus has been on winning the gold medal in the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
With luck on her side Jackie found a coach, Charlie Vinci, whose mother was a professional figure skater from Italy. “She graced the ice as a swan graces the water,” he once told her. Today he fancies the efforts of Jackie because this is the day she is going to attempt two triple axels, a set of jumps women don’t place into their Olympic routines because of the degree of difficulty. Only a strong and powerful jumper could pull this off. With a large and proud smile he asked, “You know, it’s only been accomplished once before in a competition?”
“Yep,” she chuckled, “and she won the silver.”
Jackie took in the site that has been like a second home for the past two years. Removing her coat she closes her eyes as she raises her arms away from her body allowing the cold to encompass her entire body. Shivers course through her not only from the cool air but anticipation as well. Smiling as she takes in a deep breath through her nose, the familiar air stings her nostrils.
Opening her eyes Jackie gazes over the ice. It welcomes her as it glistens from the sun coming up over the horizon. This is a day Jackie has been anticipating for some time. She steps onto the mass, eager to inspect it for weak spots as is the custom of every morning. Her feet gently slide ever so slowly from one side of the pond to the other closely listening for moans indicating the ice is shifting and unstable. Instinctively she looks down, searching for cracks under the transparent sheen. “As usual it’s perfect,” she happily says to Charlie.
“Then let’s get to it,” he responded.
After lacing up her skates, Jackie warms up on the ice by means of simple figure eights and waltz jumps. Satisfied with her work out, she gives the okay for Charlie to start the music with a posed smile and thumbs up. She chose Mozart Symphony No. 40 Molto Allegro for her routine because her body flows effortlessly with the piece and the choreography befalls naturally.
The cool wind from the speed of her skating has her cheeks tingling and the sensation becomes riveting the faster she skates. The music has completely over taken her senses forcing her to move as she has practiced a hundred times before with one exception, the triple. Taking off from the forward outside edge, Jackie bends her right knee just as she enters the jump, kicks forward with her free leg and arms, and springs into the air. Charlie quietly whispers, “One, two…….,” Then with arms in the air, and jumping up and down he bellows, “YAH!”
She practiced all through the day until the blue ice stretched to the horizon, fading into the blinding rays of the waning sun. Altogether Jackie attempts the two triple axels twenty-one times and succeeds fifteen. Under no uncertain terms, she was going to give Kim Yu-Na and Mao Asada a run for their money at the next Olympics.
Jackie was so excited, Charlie had to help put her coat and boots on because she was shivering violently. “I can’t wait to tell everyone,” she exclaimed with a shaky voice.
“Then go on ahead. I’ll gather your gear and meet you at the house.”
Without a second thought, she ran towards home jumping and twirling through the air with a smile so large it made her face hurt. She was on her way to fulfill her lifelong dream of winning the gold. Thinking of her hard work and the many trophies awarded for winning championships, but a gold medal. In the midst of her daydreaming, Jackie was not paying attention when she jumped off the curb right in front of an oncoming car.
Charlie was the only one who remained calm. Appearing at Jackie’s side in a matter of seconds, he assessed the damage and reacted accordingly. Stopping the bleeding was his first priority as he wrapped and tied his scarf very tight just above her knee. Once the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Jackie was immediately taken into surgery.
Charlie and Jackie’s mother had the unfortunate duty of telling her that her back is broken in such a way that she would never be able to walk again. Turning her head to the side with her eyes closed, Jackie mourned for the life she would never have.