Shepherd Clark: Figure Skater

Shep is an experienced figure skater who competed for many years at the Senior level.

2003 US Nationals

Got a call Monday (2003-01-20) morning from Shep, who gave me permission to tell his story here.

Shep had a rough go of it starting Monday during practice. He thinks he might have contracted the "Norwalk virus" by then; in any case, he took a bad spill landing sideways on a triple Axel, ending up with "the biggest bruise I've ever had!".

The next couple of days he dealt with the aftereffects of the fall, plus the (slight?) disorientation from the virus. He skated his short program, had trouble with a couple of elements, and placed 17th out of 19.

Then he fell quite ill, at one point having a body temperature of 103F, so he received treatment for that.

By the time he was on the ice for Saturday's warmup (around 4pm Eastern time — my wife and I, as well as a couple of friends we talked to later, saw him on the live ABC television coverage), the treatment he'd been receiving left him so disoriented that he was having trouble seeing. So he withdrew after the warmup.

Shep said it was one of the roughest Senior men's events at the Nationals he'd ever seen. Pending an opportunity to talk with him further (he was a bit in a rush when he called), here's a rundown of what I learned from the TV and Internet coverage, facts which I assume form the basis of Shep's assessment of the competition. You might already know all about this, of course:

Johnny Weir, who placed 2nd after the short, had to withdraw during the free skate, due to a horrible-looking landing on a jump (a triple Axel, I think). A few moments earlier, he'd collided with the boards, which might have thrown him off a bit.

Matt Savoie also bumped into the boards during his free skate, although not as violently. But the contact loosened the strap attaching his pants via the bottom of his skate, causing him to have to restart his program a few moments later.

Add to that a computer glitch that caused results to not be available, plus a near-collision between Michael Weiss and one of the "sweepers" (the young skaters who gather flowers and such from the ice after a program), and it was a fairly eventful, um, event.

Copyright (C) 2002, 2003, 2005 James Craig Burley
Last modified on 2007-06-10.