Fluid movement and smooth transition from action to action are some of the most notable characteristics of a talented ice skater. Achievement of that fluidity is difficult, though, and comes only with tremendous practice.
Imagine the difficulty involved in attaining such a smooth progression, multiply it by two, and you begin to get an idea of the work involved in developing a successful ice dancing team. Ice dancers must be perfectly in time with one another, keeping their own movements coordinated while simultaneously matching them to the actions of their partner.
It is an arduous task, but when ice dancing is performed well, it is perhaps one of the sporting world's most dramatically graceful spectacles.
This weekend, under the spotlights at Watson Rink, Christina Regoczy and Andras Sallay, three-time Hungarian Ice Dancing Champions, will show the crowds at the Jimmy Fund Show what ice dancing is all about. The pair have traveled from Budapest to take part in the eighth annual "An Evening With Champions," and they bring with them a wealth of talent and a unique relationship.
Regoczy has been skating for 11 years: she started just before teaming up with Sallay. He has been on skates for the last 18 years, starting on the ice when he was but six years old. The two say they are looking forward to skating in the Jimmy Fund Show, because it is a retreat from the pressures of competition.
"We enjoy exhibitions a lot more than competitions," says Regoczy, "because you can skate easier and freer. Nothing happens if you sit down."
"In competition," Sallay explains, "you can't do anything wrong, and your moves are limited. But in a show like this, you are skating to please the audience alone and can do anything you like, just so long as it's with the music."
The two have had their share of competitive skating, though. Aside from the Hungarian title, Regoczy and Sallay were the silver medalists in the 1977 European Championships, the fourth-place team in the 1976-77 World Championships, and the fifth-place team in the Montreal Olympics, competing in ice dancing in the sport's first year at the Olympic games.
But for the successful team, competition is not always the glamour that many make it out to be.
"It is very difficult, because we fight against another East-bloc country," Sallay explains, "so we are caught between the politics of the judges. We just have to go out and do our best."
"Skating is a sort of Persian market," he adds. "You sell and buy everybody."
What Sallay speaks of is the tremendous political bias in judging that has come to light in the past few years. Sallay says that Eastern European judges pull for Russia, Western judges pull for the British, and the American pull for the Americans. It leaves the Hungarian due without a friendly judge.
"Occasionally we get a friendly Canadian or American judge," Sallay says, "but in general, there's just too much politics in the sport."
"We're doing it for the sport, not the politics," Regoczy says.
"A good example of the problem is when three weeks before the European Championships one man said to us that our style was the way everyone should skate," Sallay recalls. "Then, at the competition, the same man said our style was old-fashioned."
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