Lucinda Ruh: Online Interview
Born in Zürich, Switzerland, on July 13, 1979, Lucinda Ruh began skating at the age of four. In addition to skating, she also took classical ballet.
When Ruh was four, she and her family moved to Japan where she became famous for her spinning techniques. Though she competed in several competitions in Japan, they were not officially counted as she was a foreigner.
In 1996, Ruh relocated to Toronto, Canada with her mother and began to work on her choreography with Toller Cranston. A year later, they moved to San Francisco California and Ruh begin to work with Christy Ness. That year, Ruh placed 15th at Worlds in her home country of Switzerland.
In 1998, Ruh moved to Harbin, China to train and within 5 months, had improved all of her triple jumps. In 1999, Ruh returned to Switzerland to work with Oliver Höner. After her excellent performances at the 1999 World Championships in Helsinki, she turned professional. She competed in her first professional competition at the 2000 World Professional Figure Skating Championships where she placed a respectable third.
It was evident, however, that she placed first in the hearts of her fans (and even the commentators) in her professional debut. It wasn’t just the phenomenal spinning that awed the audience but the tranquil and ethereal quality of her skating which exuded a happy peacefulness that can only come from within.
Will: What was your most memorable moment as an amateur skater?
Lucinda: The first time that I could ever attend an international competition and receive all the team jackets and goodies was one of the most memorable times for me as an amateur. It just felt like WOW I have made it!! The first World championship that I went to was Junior worlds in Budapest, Hungary where I placed sixth. This too, was an incredible feeling of satisfaction of being up there with all the other top competitors in the whole world. Also how I skated and was received by the audience at the 1999 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland was such an amazing event for me and all that I worked for. The standing ovations were such a plus point too!!!!
Will: Have there been times where you have looked back as a professional skater and thought you still wanted to skate in the eligible world?
Lucinda: Yes, definitely. Mostly because I have never been given the chance to be an Olympian. Having given the Swiss team a spot on the Olympic team in 1998 and to have them turn their back on me and close their doors, (for political reasons) hurt me the most. Also I know that I have landed all the triples and have never been able to show them at a competition, due to my body failing me with injuries. So, just always holding that question of “what if?” inside of me rises up to the surface ever so often. This is not to say, however, that I am not satisfied as a professional. I love the chance and opportunities this world has given me and my talent and there is still so much work that I feel I need to do to realize my dreams of bringing skating to another level. If ever professionals could go back to amateur and compete at the Olympics I would take that chance for sure!
Anonymous: Forgive me, Ms. Ruh, for using this opportunity without asking a question, but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your work. I am a musician (classical Clarinetist) and your art speaks to my deep musical instincts and is a joy to behold. Brava!
Lucinda: Thank you so very much for your kind compliments. The clarinet is a beautiful instrument and has a wonderful sound. I myself love music and when I was young I played the piano and cello. Unfortunately, I had to give it up because of my busy schedule with skating but would love to pick it up again. Hopefully I can express my art on the ice with all the different musical instruments that hold so beautiful sounds.
Linda F.: Do you feel that skating with Stars On Ice has had any effect on your skating? If so, what? Will you be with Stars On Ice next year?
Lucinda: I remember when I was little and wrote something I always used to add a star on my “i”. In school, they forbid me to do it and I cried. This is just a memory for me but somehow it stuck and I actually became a star on the “i” !!!! (ICE) Stars on Ice was a dream come true for me and having the chance to work with such amazing choreographers, costume designers, skaters and crew people it was everything I had thought it would be! Without realizing it, after the tour when I was back home in NY and away from all the glamour, I felt different then when I had left for the start of tour. I had grown to be more of a performer, an artist, and the experience of being in front of a different crowd almost every night made me find myself and learn a lot of new hidden secrets of my inner spirit. I would love to be on this tour forever but unfortunately God and life has decided other plans for me. Maybe next year…!
Larry C: I’m sure that you don’t remember but, several years ago, when you were being coached by Kristie Ness, my wife and I came to Oakland several times to watch you practice. Several members of the Chinese team were there too. Both of us are just awed by your headless scratch spin and, even though it wasn’t part of the program you were practicing, you were kind enough to do one. It was unbelievable. You held it through 36 shots from my camera, and I got some spectacular pictures. I just wanted to know if you are happier as a professional, and how your mom is doing. Thanks.
Lucinda: I would love to have some of those shots that you took!!! I am glad that you liked my headless spin and could get some good pictures out of it! I cannot say that I am happier as a professional but I definitely feel that I can use the talent that I have in far more artistic and creative ways as a professional. I also can explore music and choreography in ways that I could not allow myself to do in amateur. By the way my mom is doing great too! She is in NY with me, supporting whatever I am doing as always!!
Allison: Do you ever see yourself teaching a spin clinic? I love to spin and would love to know any tricks you’d want to share!
Lucinda: Actually I have already done several spin clinics in America. I just did one in Scottsdale, AZ and one in Salt Lake City, UT and they were very successful. I very much enjoy doing them and would love to help you too. Maybe you can suggest it to the ice rink you are skating at so that it could be arranged. I might see you soon!
Doreen J.: Will you be coming back to Canada Stars on Ice next year? I saw you “live” for the first time in Vancouver – absolutely beautiful!
Lucinda: CSOI was wonderful and the Canadian crowd was top of the notch as always, however, I do not know what IMG’s decisions are yet. I hope I will be able to !
Morgan Mayer: So, did you really get a boob job this year?
Lucinda: Where in the world did you get that rumor and which picture are you looking at?? No, I did not get a boob job. I think I am just growing up in the right direction. Besides, that would totally mess up my center of gravity in my spins!
Anonymous: Are you currently seeing anyone ‘special’? There was a rumor that you used to date Elvis Stojko. Is this true?
Lucinda: There is no special man at the moment, but I truly believe that there is someone out there that is my perfect match who is waiting for me! How romantic… Elvis and I were never dating but I did do his TV special. He’s a great guy though!!
Anonymous: Thank you for making the spin technique important. Did you know by the second revolution that a spin is not centered and you have to exit and try again?
Lucinda: I am not sure I quite understand your question but maybe you were wondering if I feel not centered, do I have to exit and try again. If so, yes, I have that a lot of times. Just like jumps, sometimes the timing is not right and I can’t spin. I think the difficulty of spins is overlooked. Spins have stopped improving yet jumps have evolved tremendously. I hope that this answers your question.
Cheri: No World or Olympic medal, yet you are adored by millions of fans (I’m one of them!). Are you surprised by the reaction of your fans? Thank you for bringing such grace, elegance and excitement to the sport!
Lucinda: Thank you for seeing what I try to bring onto the ice. Millions of fans, maybe not quite yet… but I hope it will be soon… I think to be adored by fans is always the nicest reward of being a performer. To have the appreciation of one fan or millions of fans is just an amazing feeling that I am doing something right and giving joy to someone’s day. Thank you!
Oscar: What do you do with your skates and costumes at the end of the season, do you keep them at home?
Lucinda: I still have all the pairs of skates that I have ever worn. That is something I could never part with. All that effort, pain and joy that I experienced with those skates just holds too many memories to let go of. I also still have all of my costumes from when I was little. They are sooo cute… When I look at them now, I remember all the competitions and shows that I did with them. Some of the later ones I have given to friends or other skaters that were in need of them. I still have my 1999 Worlds costumes and these are all hanging in my home in Switzerland.
Paula: Any ideas on where you would like to take your skating career in the near future? Any interest in coaching and/or choreography?
Lucinda: I definitely would like to expand my creativeness of my spins. I would like to do some videos of my creations. Also to be in the Guinness Book of World Records. Coaching and choreography very much interests me. I really like to dedicate all my time and effort towards my students so I would not like to take on too many at a time, but pick out a few and help them be all they can be.
Sandi: What’s the trick to spinning so well and fast?
Lucinda: I wish it could be that simple to answer as it is to ask but I honestly do not have just one trick. So Sorry Wouldn’t it be sooo easy just to be able to buy it at the store? I would love to buy all the triples, and have a good skating day everyday too! Seriously, it really takes practice and patience and a few good techniques… Like with jumps timing and center of balance is number one. For everyone their body center is different so just try to find your center. It is hard to explain without being there with you, but hopefully this helps a little.
Brigitte from Canada: I’m having trouble entering my forward spins. I seem to rush my freeleg and free arm and then the get caught before being able to properly hook the spins. What advice could you give me to fix my forward spins? Also, my doc says it’s not natural to be able o lay my back backwards. I told my doc, who has Jennifer Robinson’s mom working for him, that all the lady freeskaters can lay their backs back and if he doesn’t believe me, to ask Jen’s mom. Although, I know one thing, no one can lay back their back as far as you can lay back on your layback spins. Wow!
Lucinda: The entrances to the forward, sit and camel spins are basically the same. You just have to take your time going into them. The toe pick will hook naturally on it’s own so don’t worry about that. Good luck!
Freddi: Just wanted to say that it is truly a treat when I catch you on TV. Your spinning is the BEST!!!
Lucinda: Thank you!!!! Thank you for watching.
VC: I was just wondering if you have had a lot of ballet training? If so, how often do you take classes?
Lucinda: I actually was a ballet dancer before being a skater. I had a scholarship to the Royal Ballet of London when I was seven. Now I take classes when I am not training too hard on the ice, but otherwise I do it on my own, a little everyday.
Kim H: What advice would you give to the adult population that has started skating and competing in the last five years?
Lucinda: Live your dreams…and practice is patience…It does not matter at what age you start, starting is the beginning point, so congratulations to all adults out there who are acting their dreams out. You are admired by all. Thank you for giving the sport no age limit.
Joanne P.: Living in Hawaii, we miss out on all the skating events. My husband and I are big fans of yours and would love to see you perform in person. Do you see any possibility of performing in Hawaii in the future?
Lucinda: I love Hawaii. I have been there on family vacations and had the most amazing time. Yes, Hawaii would be great – I’ll have to suggest that to my agent!
Angie: Which is your favorite song that you have skated to?
Lucinda: I loved Alanis Morissette’s Prayer’s Cycle. I also loved Chopin’s Impromptu, though it is not a song, per se.
Anonymous: Are you just naturally flexible? What was your “spins” practice schedule like while you were 10 and up?
Lucinda: I was stiff as a board when I was young. I seriously could not touch my toes for the longest time!! I had a very strict ballet teacher from when I was around six and she made me flexible… My spin schedule was up to me…I would just spin as long as I could!
Katia: What kind of music do you like to listen to? Hope everything’s going well and good luck in your future endeavors!
Lucinda: Thank you! I love to listen to all choir and classical music and then the flip side of that the light pop songs like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Christina Aguilera.
Madolyn B.: Is professional skating what you expected it to be? Are you doing any other shows than Stars On Ice?
Lucinda: I really tried not to expect anything when I turned professional. All I wanted was the chance to show my skating to more people and give them joy and smiles. I love to perform. I am doing a lot of shows this coming year. I will be doing Sun Valley, Divas, and Scott Hamillton’s show, etc… For exact dates and other big shows please visit my website and check out my schedule.
Mary: What is your happiest memory?
Lucinda: I really cannot simplify to just one memory because I have so many. The journey that skating has taken me is an amazing memory in itself and still continues. Putting on my skates for the first time, watching Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov skate live, going to the World Championships, and the unforgettable long car rides with my Mom to and from the rink.
Alice M.: Should less emphasis be put on jumps in skating? Should they be limited to 4 instead of 7? In the eligible ranks, who do you feel is an up-and-coming spinner?
Lucinda: No I do not think jumps should be limited to 4 but maybe it should not matter so much if they are doubles or triples. I think jumps can be artistic if done with flair. I think Stéphane Lambiel from Swsitzerland can continue the Swiss tradition of spinning. I think Alexei Yagudin, Sarah Hughes and Irina Slutskaya have a good center in their spins.
Sally: The best thing that has happened to skating in a long time is your appearance on the scene! During the past few years, the emphasis has been on jumps, jumps, and jumps. You have shown how important spins can be to a complete program. I’m an adult skater and I’m having trouble getting my forward scratch spin. I’m having trouble stepping into the spin. I’m either stepping into the spin wrong because I can’t get my leg up and around fast enough. I also get some travel. Any hints for one of the simpler spins? Thanks Lucinda!
Lucinda: Thank you!! I think I just answered a question similar to this one to Bridgette in Canada. Hopefully this will help you too :-).
Daniel and Little Lulu: How long can you spin without stopping? Also, how many rotations can you do without stopping?
Lucinda: I have not clocked my spins yet, but I have calculated that I can do about 80 revolutions on just one foot without stopping.
Cathleen: Who are your favorite skaters in the amateur ranks and why?
Lucinda: Pluschenko for his quickness, Michelle Kwan for her perserverance, and Sarah Hughes for her flow.
Paula: What is your favorite jump to perform and which do you feel is the most difficult?
Lucinda: Everyday I like a different jump, so it’s really hard to say!!! Also, jumps have almost a spell on me, making one jump difficult one day and easy the next!!! I think I will never figure that one out!!!
Paula: Are you currently working on any new moves or material?
Lucinda: I am on the constant search to improve my skating, my quality and my material. I am trying to do more innovative programs this year and working with shape and edges so hopefully some of my new characters will be seen this year!
Paula: You mentioned at the 2000 World Professional FS Championships that you would be attempting to land a spot in the Guinness World Book of Records with the most revolutions in a minute. Will you be doing this anytime soon?
Lucinda: I have actually already submitted two tapes, one for 270 revolution per minute, and the other for 80 revolutions on one foot. I am crossing my fingers!
DJStuCrew: How often do you create a new spin position? Do you use video replay to see what it looks like? What do you do to stay flexible?
Lucinda: For me a new spin is like a painting and has to come to me on the spur of the moment or when I feel like it!!. I NEVER watch myself because I never like what I see. I do a lot pilates to stay flexible. It really helps the alignment of the body.
Melanie: What are your main tips for a good layback spin?
Lucinda: BALANCE.. and flexibility. It all comes in one package!
Paula: During your competitive career thus far, what was your most embarrassing moment or occurrence? Is there anything you can share with the public that we don’t know already?
Lucinda: I remember when I went all the way to Switzerland from Tokyo, Japan for a skating test when I was about nine years old. I was supposed to be the new, young, and up-and-coming “star” and I had my Japanese coach with me. There was such a big audience and lots of judges too! I was ready to go on the ice and me being totally nervous instead of gliding nicely across the ice, the first thing everybody saw, was me falling flat on my face on the ice!!! I had totally forgotten to take my guards off. It was quite embarrassing. I did pass the test though with flying colours!! Also during a Stars On Ice dress rehearsal, I was in a layback spin and the strap of my costume just snapped. I exposed a little too much of myself right under the spot light!! I quickly exited the spin and covered myself!
Paula: What do you feel are your strengths in skating (other than spinning)?
Lucinda: I think that my artistry , edge work and feel for the ice are my strength points. Also, whenever I perform I try to bring a whole other world into my program. That everything matches and is thought out to make my character look real. I love to act off ice and when on the ice I try to be an actress as well.
Christine: Do you coach any young skaters for spinning? Why is spinning neglected in training?
Lucinda: I do coach some people in spinning but when I teach I like to be more well rounded and teach a variety of things. Because spinning has a preparation and an ending and it comes from pure edges. I think spins have been neglected in skating because they are thought to be easier than jumps, and that jumps have evolved, and spins have stayed at the basic positions. Also it is very hard to do jumps after you have spun a lot because YOU GET DIZZY, so teachers tend to do jumps first. As as result, the students are usually too tired by the time they have to spin, which may cause their spins to become mediocre.
Andrew: When did you train in Canada at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club? What does it feel like to spin so fast? You once described it as magical.
Lucinda: I trained at the Cricket Club in 1997. Spinning to me is my meditation. I feel like no-one can touch me, no-one can tell me what I have to do, it is just my little world of silence. It is quiet and magical. It is my haven where I can forget everything. Spinning is where I feel true to myself.
Paula: You mentioned you’d like to become an actress. What kind of acting would you like to go into?
Lucinda: I have loved acting since I was very young, yet never had the time to pursue it and now I feel the time is right! I would love to do film and TV. Walking down the red carpet would just be a dream come true. I also would love to combine the acting with skating in many creative ways. I enjoy bringing pure emotions to everyone’s faces in as many ways as I can.
Paula: Thank you Lucinda! Is there anything you’d like to add or to say to your fans?
Lucinda: Thank you so much for your support and acceptance of my art. I truly believe that every person has a speciality and that you just have to find it and make it your own. It does not matter what it is, but indulge in it, love it and embrace it. I hope that I can help all of you in some way with my talent. I hope that my advice helps those that want it. In order to find your center in life, leave what does not feel right for you and create your own painting. Thank you for opening your hearts to me. Truly without you, I would not be doing my craft nor would I feel joy in doing it, so trust me, YOU make me. Thank you!!!!!! — Lucinda Ruh