There was a skater about five or six years ago whom I loved to watch -- Ann Patrice McDonough (see right). You just knew from watching her that she would make an impact in the skating world for years to come. Solid spins and jumps, grace and flow on the ice, a calmness to her skating, she really stood out, and she could do anything. She was the World Junior Champion in 2002 (YouTube link to short program at 2002 Junior Worlds) and came in 4th at the 2003 U.S. Nationals. Then...she disappeared.
Previously, I thought she was like a Naomi Nari Nam, another unbelievable skater who wowed us and then left singles skating after some serious injuries. Naomi then came back to skating, but as a pairs skater with Themistocles Leftheris, and they've been a pretty successful team. But with Naomi there was a story that we followed. With Ann Patrice, there was no story. She was just...gone and from 2004 to the present, I just kept her in the back of my mind as a great skater. Until now of course. I just got my issue of Blades on Ice in the mail and there it is - A "Where are they now?" article featuring Ann Patrice.
So the story goes, after a disappointing 6th place finish at the 2004 U.S. Nationals, she left skating. Rumors swirled that she was at odds with her mother, Julie, over her career, or that she left town with a boyfriend. The article caught up with her in Colorado Springs, where she grew up and trained, but Ann was there to support a young skater at the Broadmoor Open, and to visit with some friends. At 23, Ann now lives in New Rochelle, New York as a "sometime coach" at the Westchester Skating Academy. Asked if she left the skating world to just be a regular kid, she responded,
No, it was more like trying to figure out what real life is. This is not real. (The) figure skating world is not real - not reality. Many people don't want to believe it, but the real world is a lot tougher than most people think. I just wanted to live like a real person.
Hm. Sounds like she did just want to be a regular kid. And I'm not saying anything about her mom, but whenever they showed her on television, I thought, first, she resembles one of my favorite authors Amy Tan, and second, that she looked pretty serious all the time. But I'm just wildly speculating as to Ann's departure from skating.
Ann also stated that,
I didn't step into an ice rink for three years, I didn't talk about skating, I didn't have anything to do with skating. . . . It was time to just leave. I love competing -- competing is my favorite aspect of skating and I still love to compete. I don't think age has anything to do with skating, I just think if you love to skate, you skate.
The article also noted that she remains single and when asked about possible marriage and children, she said, "I'm only 23. I'm too young. There's no children in the near future and if there ever are, they are going to do whatever they want." Huh? Is that a reference to her mom? I'm not sure, but I hope Ann Patrice is in a better place in her life. I do hope, though, that she decides to do an exhibition once in a while. I, for one, will be there for sure.