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'Queen of Spin' Ruh joins skating stars for a night of grace on Seattle ice

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: January 4, 2002
Author: Doree Armstrong

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 spiritual thing."

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 some Chinese.

"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 do.

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 complaints."

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."