Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I am a member of the most misunderstood, despised, and maligned groups in the world.

I am a figure skating judge.

And while the vitriol about the evil figure skating judges only really comes on strong every four years, it is not an easy life.

Figure skating judges live their lives of quiet desperation in cold, dark places known as ice rinks. We travel as vagabonds from one location to another, following a trail of multi-colored sequins that lead us to the next competition.

We sequester ourselves away from the rest of humanity at the rink since we have accepted the fact that we scare small skaters and, quite often, their parents. We hear their hushed voices, whispering, "That's one of the judges..." as they turn their heads away.

We spend endless hours in ice rinks, sitting rink-side and freezing our patooties off. (I'm certain that there are parts of my anatomy that have perma-frost and may never completely thaw out.)

When our friends discover a wool winter coat in our car on a hot and humid July afternoon, they assume that we're lazy and just never got around to bringing it into the house. The reality is, if you flip open the trunk of most judges' vehicles during any month of the year, you will find boots, wool socks, mittens, gloves, a warm coat and an assortment of fleece blankets with figure skating club logos. We must be ready for service at a moment's notice.

We are volunteers. While we don't get paid, we often receive gift cards (or fleece blankets). At anytime, you can find in our wallets 3 Barnes & Nobles, 2 Caribous, 2 Paneras and a partially used Starbucks.

There are many misconceptions about us. We are not, as a majority, French. Most of us don't own mink coats and the closest we will get to judging the Olympics is yelling at the 53" flat panel TV in the family room.

So please, as I begin my crazy time of year, when I have a competition nearly every weekend from now through spring, be kind to me. And if some Monday morning, you find me wandering around the office with a clip board looking for the judges stand, just tell me the event got canceled and I can go back to the hospitality room. I'll snap out of it eventually.

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