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Thread: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

  1. #1

    The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    While I certainly agree with Ladskater's ideas to praise the many wonderful mothers and fathers who sacrifice willingly to allow their sons and daughters to pursue their skating dream, I feel compelled to mention the other side of the coin.


    While I will never condone Tonya Harding's outrageous behavior, poor choices, and excuses, the fact remains that her mother qualified fully for the "Dragon Lady" skating mother category. Mrs. Harding used to abuse Tonya verbally and sometimes physically at the rice rink if her daughter made mistakes or did not "try hard enough" to master the jumps.
    Mrs. H. had a habit of screaming at Tonya, "You're not good enough! You'll never be a winner." When Tonya competed and came in, say fifth, her mother would berate her for not finishing higher. I recall a television documentary made of the young teenage Tonya Harding in which she phoned her mother from Garden City, Long Island, site of the 1986 US Nationals, where she had finished 6th. That was a very respectable result for a 15-year-old, and it earned Tonya several international assignments that fall. However, her darling mother criticized Tonya for making a mistake on her combination jump and for not finishing higher. After the phone call, Tonya slumped on the bed and moaned, "What a
    b-----". Now really, does anybody think Mrs. Harding helped her daughter to grow into a mature, caring, and confident person with her brand of mistreatment? UGH.

    Tiffany Chin won the 1985 US title and two World bronze medals, in 1985 and 1986, and she clearly possessed the talent to continue onward towards the 1988 Olympics. As a 16-year-old, Tiffany had won the silver medal at the 1984 US Nationals and competed brilliantly at the 1984 Olympics, where she finished fourth overall. However, Mrs. Chin was yet another Dragon Lady of the first order, a woman who could be counted on to verbally bully and criticize her daughter. Once (and I'm sure this wasn't the only time) Tiffany and her mother were interviewed together and were asked if they thought Tiffany was preparing well for the upcoming competitive season (in that case 1986/1987). Tiffany said she was training very diligently and felt she would be ready to compete well at Nationals to try to regain her US title. Her mother, however, contradicted her daughter and said Tiffany was lazy, not in good shape, and was not working hard enough to justify the amount of money her family was spending to finance her skating. Tiffany looked at her mother, sighed, and slouched back in her seat, with a facial expression of hurt and anger. Is this the way to motivate a child to skate their best. I hardly think so!

  2. #2
    Cinderella On Ice

    Re: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    Unfortunately, there are also these Dragon Ladies at the local levels.

    I remember two in particular from when I skated as a kid. The first had two daughters. The older one was a lovely girl, but rather plain and a bit overweight. The younger one was like a little porcelain doll. DL told everyone that Plain Jane wasn't "fit" to skate (but she was forced to hang around the rink for hours and hours while Porcelana got all the attention). DL would treat Plain Jane like dirt, ordering her around like Porcelana's personal servant, screaming at her if she brought the wrong color hair bows for Porcelana, etc. Porcelana was just a pawn; DL was motivated purely by her OWN lost dreams, sho she poured everything into Porcelana. BTW, Porcelana was no great shakes as a skater. She was just an incredibly pretty little girl (reminiscent of Jon Benet Ramsey). DL once told my mom that Porcelana was her little princess and "what my princess wants, my princess gets."

    One day Plain Jane couldn't take it and after her mom shreiked at her for the millionth time for some other infraction, she went crying in the corner. DL turned to MY mom (who was helping me with my costume at the time) and barked at her, "Get me a lemonade for Porcelana, will you?" My mom just about hit the roof! But she turned and in her most sugary voice said something like, "Oh I'm so sorry, we're really busy over here in OUR kingdom, so your little princess will have to get her own drink." Then she marched over to the counter, bought three drinks, handed one to me, one to Plain Jane, took the third one herself and gave a little toast "to some special little girls" and we drank up. I thought DL was going to breathe fire! Plain Jane and I sort of got the girly giggles cuz we knew there was something awesome going on here. DL was not used to not getting her own way, and she just sort of sputtered and stomped and eventually went and got Porcelana her own drink. After that, my mom was always especially nice to Plane Jane, and would go out of her way to treat her special. When PJ graduated from high school (with excellent grades, I might add), she sent a very nice note to my mom about how much her special treatment had meant to PJ as a kid.

    The other mom is a story I'll leave for another time, because TO THIS DAY she is still known as the DL of the rink where she is still working!

  3. #3

    Re: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    Cinderella: Out of curiousity, how did the two girls end up in life? How far did "Porcy" get with her skating, and did "Jane" go on to college and have a good life?

  4. #4

    Re: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    I know AP's mom gets this title a lot - she is very pushy and an acquaintance of mine who skates at the same rink says any time someone even remotely gets in the way of AP, Julie McDonough hits the roof and complains the the rink manager that "the ice is too crowded." Didn't she (julie) want to be a figure skater once? It could be one of those "living through your child" things.

  5. #5
    Cinderella On Ice

    Re: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    Yazmeen - I've been out of touch with them the last 10-15 years, but last I knew, the skating opened a few doors for "Porcy," but neither her skating (nor acting) panned out. She is a stay-at-home mom with at least one child, who has begun to skate. The sad thing is that a lot of kids resented her because she was such a "princess," but she actually was just a regular nice (but spoiled) little girl whose mom was a DL. Plain Jane turned out to have lots of brains and is a highly successful businesswoman. I believe both are happy as adults, as they both should be. Too bad they couldn't enjoy their sisterly relationship, since DL always made them be at odds.

  6. #6
    berthes ghost

    Re: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    I don't know any famous skaters or their moms.

    Personally, I tend to think of all the famous DL stories as sexism mixed with jealosy.

    When her little jumping bean needed to improve her presentation, Mrs Fleming sent her to Rob Paul. When the little artist needed to master figures, then worth 60%, she hired the politically savy Carlo Fassi. When Peggy won the Olys, DL brokered an unprecendented big $ deal with a major TV network.

    If Mike Burg, or whatever his name is, had done for Oksana or Tara 1/10th or what DL had done for her little princess, he'd be called a genius, but because she did the whole thing from the slimline wall phone in her kitchen she's forever know as one of skatings greatest beatches.

  7. #7

    Re: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    berthesghost - I sometimes also see that thing that women are judged differently from men.

    But in this case I'd say there is another fact described which has imho a bad influence on the skating child. Cause either she (most times it seems to be a she) is spoiled or she is condemned.

    I'd say a manager (being parent or not) can be hard in business affairs without putting too much stress on the skater. People can (if they want) behave differently in different occasions. It's not necessary to be good friend with every business partner but still behave in a friendly way with other people at the rink AND support the skater instead of projecting a phantasy image on her/him.

    As one poster at least already mentioned - when I see people act like those described DLs it's often because they didn't succeed in what they wanted to do and now force their child to fulfill their own dream....

  8. #8

    Re: The Dragon Lady Skating Mothers

    Frankly, I think the Dragon Ladies would have done far better if they had "gotten a life" instead of vicariously living their lives through their talented daughters. Perhaps they were motivated by the desire to produce a winner in the family, or perhaps they wanted to see their daughter achieve the success they were unable to obtain. Society has this notion that "winning isn't the most important thing - it's the only thing" - taken from famed football coach Vince Lombardi.

    However you put it, the kind of verbal and physical abuse Tonya Harding suffered at the hands of her overbearing mother were hardly helpful. How in the world is a kid supposed to develop self confidence when she's constantly being criticized and put down by her mother, one of the most important figures in her life?

  9. #9

    Dragon Lady Skating Moms

    Interesting topic. The rink where I usually skate does not have a lot of DL Moms, but I also skate at a couple other rinks that have a bigger population of young competitors. One time I saw a little girl practicing her program, sort of an Irish jig themed program, it actually looked pretty good. I was putting on my skates, sitting near her mother. Afterwards the child came back to the boards exciting and smiling to talk to her mother, who started yelling at her for being lazy, too slow, not putting any syle into it, why am I wasting my time and money with you, etc. The child just deflated, and went from being enthusiastic to sullen. As she continued to practice her program over and over again, she looked lifeless to me. I wonder how many thousands of dollars this girl will spend on therapy when she is an adult. I have to say this is the exception, which is why it sticks in my mind. The other skating moms and dads I have seen are usually very loving and supportive, giving their time to there freezing in the bleachers.

  10. #10

    Re: Dragon Lady Skating Moms

    Methinks the money has a whole lot to do with it. Mom (or Dad) CAN'T get a life. No vacations, no hobbies of their own. They sink all their resources into the keed.

    I don't see it at skating rinks but I do see it at equestrian barns (yet another very expensive pursuit).


  11. #11

    Re: Dragon Lady Skating Moms

    I remember the story of Peggy Fleming's mother being her agent. I said to myself, "Damn, Mrs Fleming should be working in Hollywood. A lot of actors/actresses would get lots of opportunities with her representing them."

  12. #12
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Staring at the ocean and smiling.
    Surya's mom is always listed among the DL's. AFAIR, she alienated all the coaches, she insisted she knew more than the coaches, and yet she had never skated, so she didn't really know much about any of what Surya needed (better stroking, for example.)


  13. #13
    GOLDEN DREAMS RealtorGal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    San Diego, CA

    Question Surya

    I wonder what might have become of Surya had she obtained the services of a REAL coach and REAL choreographer rather than her manipulative, controlling mother, who was clearly devoid of any artistic sensibility whatsoever!

  14. #14
    Fan of The Incomparable Sonja Henie Glacierskater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Lowell, Arkansas and the skating rink
    It never ceases to amaze me how some parents act. We are lucky that we do not have any DL...although we do have one mom that thinks that her beautiful daughter in wonderful shape should be a stick person. She has her kid on a (I will not mention the company) supplemental eating program where she is trying to make her kid lose 30 pounds. At her weight she would be severely underweight. She never comes to practices, and then shows up for one competition and yells stupid stuff across the ice that is nothing but "GO FOR IT"... DUH. That's what she is doing by being out there in the first place.

    While we do not have Blatant Dragon Lady Skate Mom, we have several Lady in Waiting Passive Dragon Lady Skate Moms...they say nothing to their child in front of anyone, but said child can do no wrong in the eyes of LiWPDLSMs...for example: This is the skate mom that takes over the soundbooth, and you hear their little skate angel's music so often, that you have begun to skate their program as well, because it is the only skating that you will get in that day. YOUR mom works, she does not have time to come comandeer the soundbooth, and play your music 7 million you skate to the Lion King and Veggie Tales music for 4 hours. Not that there is anything wrong with said music, but after 4 hours of it, you start to skate erratically, and go to hockey stop, only to find yourself not quite stopping and bashing the boards just to try to put yourself out of your misery.

    The Lady in Waiting Passive Dragon Lady Skate Mom will spend hours on the counter at the rink guiding their child through every element that they know. The only reason that SHE is not in the soundbooth is because another LiWPDLSM has already taken it over. The Countertop LiWPDLSM will give their child every command and tells them what to do at every moment. When the directive is given, the ice angel will perform the element and skate directly back to the door for immediate appproval/disapproval. The ice angel of the LiWPDLSM never yields right of way...lesson or not (forget program or not, you did not bring your mom to man the soundbooth, no music for you!) and you will spend most of your practice or lesson doging the ice angel because they have never experienced discipline, let alone directives on sharing the ice.

    Now, sometimes the ice angel of the Soundbooth LiWPDLSM cannot get the child's attention, so she has Microphone Rights. She will summon/page her child to the soundbooth for directives.
    If that angel does not repsond, then the younger ice angel will be sent out on skates to get the attention of the older ice angel. That's just the way it works. If you get lucky, YOU might get sent to summon the ice angel with a little message like, "Your mom said that you need to work on so and so because you have a test next week." Peachy. Now, this leads to Round 2 of "Playing My Second Program Music 7 Million Times in a Row Because I Have a Test Next Week." This will be preceeded by an announcement from Soundbooth LiWPDLSM to "Watch out for my baby ice angel!" What luck. So you venture out to attempt that MIF element that just has you in a pickle, and opps, you are tripped by ice angel and they run into to you...wait, their music is playing, you have to yield the right of way for the 14 millionth time. Then they huff off and Soundbooth LiWPDLSM is starting the music all over. What luck to be able to experience such refined manners and skate etiquette.
    The ice angel of LiWPDLSM - be it the Countertop or Soundbooth variety - always posseses the most talent of the rink...possibly the is hard to say. Just ask them, they will tell you. Don't bother showing up to skate against will not win. In fact, you should pay them to skate...just pay your dues and ice time, and don't bother to show up.

    Seriously, we have some great skate moms. We have some that, well, they are the mother of a skater. One thing that I would like to do for a fund raiser, or to sell to make money for our club is a t-shirt that has the top 10 ways to identify a skate mom...all in good fun and good taste. Something that is true, but funny. For example, at skate camp we had some moms that have manned the countetop for so long, they notice every new crack in the plexiglass around the rink. I found this quite amusing. They were checking it out a ding in the glass to see if it was new, stating that it had not been there the week before. You had to love them.

    I would like any input on this top 10 list. Please feel free to add.

    You know you are a skate mom when:
    1. You know your child's program better than they do from hours of observation.
    2. You know every new crack or nick in the glass surrounding the rink from hours of observation.
    3. You know every other skater's program and music from hours of observation.
    4. You go out to eat with other skate moms to get away from skating and talk about: SKATING!
    5. You sepnd more on costumes, lessons, and tights than you do food, utilities, and shelter.
    6. You start to think that sequins are an everyday part of dressing.
    7. You spend more time in the rink than you do in your own kitchen.
    8. You have to justify that last costume on the VISA as NECESSITY.
    9. You spend hours, even days on one costume for 1:30 to 4:00 minutes of joy/agony.
    10. You have more leotards, tights, and skating dresses in the laundry than any other garment.


    Last edited by Glacierskater; 07-28-2003 at 01:28 PM.

  15. #15
    Custom Title
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Chicago, IL USA

    Skate Moms

    according to your clothing rules.........
    I am my own skate Mom! And it's a funny thing about those clothes; there isn't a costume made yet that will do the jumps by itself. But some Moms never stop trying.

    A bit more on topic: We have a built in safety against the skate mom's comandeering the music station. Only coaches can touch it. Everyone puts their tape in a line, first come first served and they are all played in order. The coaches have to work out among themselves just how many times "Thank Heaven For Little Girls" will be played in a row. It's a self-policing policy that seems to work out well at our small facility.

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