The 1984 Olympic silver medalist in women's figure skating, Rosalynn Sumners has been a touring professional for nearly 10 years. The Seattle resident recently served as guest in-studio skating analyst for TNT's Winter Olympic coverage and will perform with the Stars on Ice tour Wednesday night at the ThunderDome. She recently shared with Times staff writer Don Banks her views on figure skating:
Q: The Harding-Kerrigan scandal has attracted the national spotlight to figure skating like never before. Is any publicity "good publicity" for your sport?
A: I feel that it wasn't the most positive thing to have happened, but in the end, when it's all over and done with, people won't be talking about just the attack, they'll be talking about skating. People who aren't really interested in skating have tuned in to find out what's going on with Harding and Kerrigan. And I think men especially who might have thought, "Oh, figure skating," are getting hooked on the sport. So, in the end, I think skating will find more fans.
Q: The bronze-medal performance of Torvill and Dean raised the issue of whether the Olympic judges were harsher on professionals than amateurs in Lillehammer. Were they held to a higher standard?
A: I definitely think they were being a little harder on professionals. One reason could be because the professionals were supposed to be better because they've had 10 years of professional experience. But I think some of the judges might not be thrilled with professionals in the Olympics. A lot of what Torvill and Dean did in the early '80s was illegal and was a gray area, with their lifts And I don't think they were just going to let them walk back in 10 years later and let them get away with it. Maybe by letting them win with those moves, that was like saying our sport hasn't progressed in 10 years.
Q: Do you think the judging in figure skating has to be easier for the average fan to grasp and understand before the sport becomes even more widely accepted?
A: Even sometimes we don't get it. It often comes down to something so subjective. Commentators are just going to have to keep explaining it to fans as much as possible. An artistic mark is an artistic mark, and that is a preference of choice.
Q: We've heard, this Olympics, about the riskier performances, the different styles that have not sat well with certain judges. Is there a lot of pushing the outside of the envelope?
A: I think so. I love to see Elvis Strojko do his karate-type style. I really don't think anybody out there was too far out as opposed to what we professionals do on tour. We get pretty "out there," and I think skaters know where to stop pushing with judges. But you can't just stay in that little mold, just because some judges may not like it. You also have to express yourself. These older judges need to be pushed in that sense.
Q: Is it good for skating to have Nancy Kerrigan transformed into this near-mythical figure by virtue of the attack?
A: Nancy obviously has to live up to her status, as a role model and as a person, and how she handles her success or failures. But it is good for skating because, when you do have one icon _ one Dorothy Hamill or one Nancy Kerrigan _ it just starts a whole slew of little girls wanting to be like that. That's how I started, wanting to be Dorothy Hamill. That's how I wound up with such a wonderful life.
Stars on Ice
What: Discover Card Stars on Ice 1993-94 tour, a 30-city tour featuring 13 World and Olympic champion figure skaters with eight Olympic medals represented.
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: ThunderDome, St. Petersburg.
Who: 1992 Olympic medalists Kristi Yamaguchi (gold) and Paul Wylie (silver) and 1984 gold medal winner Scott Hamilton headline the 13-skater show. Other Olympic stars include 1984 and 1988 silver medalist Brian Orser, 1984 silver medalist Rosalynn Sumners, 1984 Olympic pairs silver medalists Kitty and Peter Carruthers and 1992 Olympic silver medalists Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov.
Tickets: $35 and $22.50, plus service charge, on sale at the ThunderDome box office and all Ticketmaster locations. All seats reserved. One dollar from every ticket purchased with a Discover Card will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. To charge by phone, call (813) 287-8844 or 898-2100.