'Queen of Spin' Ruh joins skating stars for a night of grace on Seattle ice
||January 4, 2002|
The Winter Olympics are just around the corner, and for many people
that means hours of watching figure skating, the perennial champ of
Olympic TV viewership. Tomorrow night you can watch several past
Olympic winners up close at the Stars on Ice show at KeyArena, part of
a 61-city national tour.
Former Olympic champions Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina
Witt and Ilia Kulik, as well as four-time world champion Kurt Browning
and three-time U.S. national pair champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand,
will perform routines with jumps and spins that you'll never see in an
Olympics, with its set of prescribed maneuvers.
A newcomer to Stars on Ice is two-time Swiss national champion
Lucinda Ruh, who placed third at the World Professional Championships
in 2000. The 22-year-old began skating at the age of 5 and is now
called "The Queen of Spin" because of her unbelievable 270 revolutions
per minute. She's trying to get a new category created for the
Guinness Book of World Records for most spins per minute, because
she's nailed it.
"I never had a spin coach or anything; this is all from feeling it
and my parents helping me," Ruh explained by phone from her New York
home. "I feel really free; I can kind of let go. It's also kind of a
While most people get sick to their stomach when spinning just a
few times, Ruh admits that "some days I feel it, too, but I know how
to control it."
Her father works for a chemical company, which has transferred
him all over the world, including Paris, Tokyo, Toronto, San
Francisco, China and now Dubai. The family never spent more than a few
years in any one place, but Ruh continued to skate wherever she
was. Ruh is fluent in German, French, Japanese, English and speaks
"There's quite a long tradition of good Swiss spinners," she
said. "My dad would tell me I had to continue the legend of good
spinners. I always worked really, really hard at it. And I just
started to love it."
As a youngster she studied classical ballet and received a
scholarship to the Royal Ballet of London at the age of 7, but decided
to concentrate on skating. But her life isn't all about skating. Her
hobbies include ballet, basketball, painting, swimming, poetry and
studying sciences and music. After her skating career, she'd like to
study law and work at the United Nations or an embassy.
Injuries kept her out of the 1998 Olympics, a major disappointment
for her. She decided to turn pro about a year ago, because a
professional tour was a better showcase for her trademark
spins. Amateur competitions such as the Olympics require certain
maneuvers and would never accommodate the amount of spinning Ruh can
As for life on the road as part of a national touring company, it's
exciting but also a lot of work. She previously toured with German
Stars on Ice.
"There is a lot of stress," she admits. "It's hard to be on top of
it and really do your best every night. But you just think that you're
so lucky to be the one that's out there. It helps bring your thoughts
back down to earth."
The tour began last week, so Ruh is adjusting to life on the road
with a host of world-class athletes she grew up admiring.
"It's very cool because it's people I've been looking up to for
years. I really try to learn from them. Hopefully they like me being
around!" she said with a laugh.
"I just love to tour. We've moved a lot my whole life, so I've
never really had a 'home.' So, for me, if I don't travel I get really
antsy. Especially with this group, it's so prestigious, I have no
Legendary skater Dick Button has called her "the most brilliant
spinner I have seen in all the years I've watched figure skating."
"It gave me goosebumps for somebody of such a high caliber to say
that of me," she said. "I was really, really pleased."
But, really, how does she spin so fast?
"It's just like, 'How do people jump so high?'" she
explained. "It's definitely a feeling right now, a given gift for
sure. I just looked at other people, saw how they were spinning, where
to be so I could spin faster. Right now I try to go faster every day."