Nicole Bobek is the figure skater that broke a lot of skating fans' hearts. She had it all. Big jumps. Amazing fast, centered and beautiful spins. She was the first one with the full split spiral position, held across the entire rink that made you stop breathing and is the reason that position is now practically required of all ladies.
But it was the way she interpreted the music and poured soul into every performance that made you fall in love with her. She could have won it all. But something about the way her vulnerability spilled out made you cringe because you knew there was just not going to be a happy ending for her.
She had an unstable childhood. (Although if you knew anything about how figure skating prodigies are raised, none of them are "normal") She was taken from one coach to another. She was known for her lack of discipline and her "wild" teenage ways.
This is her 1995 short program at the Worlds. There's a bit of fluff before it but it does explain a bit about her. She went in as National Champion and this brilliant performance set her on course for winning the World Championships. But she fell apart in the long program. Chen Lu from China won, Michelle Kwan took silver. Kwan became the next Figure Skating Princess and won nine national championships and except for one comeback in 1998 that got her on the Olympic team, Bobeck never was much of a contender again.
Lots of fans were infuriated with her because she didn't seem to live up to her potential.
But maybe she did. Maybe she really did the best she could and from what little we know of her upbringing she did mighty fine for herself. She turned out much better than Tonya Harding for sure. I hear she's still skating professionally here and there.
I couldn't find it on Youtube but if you ever get a chance to see her skating to "No Sacrifice" - that performance could make you weep it was so beautiful. She had a presence on that defies explanation.