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Christine Brennan’s gossipy Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey Into the Secret World of Figure Skating is for anyone who’s ever gotten choked up over a perfect triple lutz. “Figure skating is kind of like football for women,” says Brennan, who is well-acquainted with the surge of emotion that follows a triumphant or tragic skating program. “This is what we’ve accepted for years as a normal fan’s reaction….The 30-year-old guy who drives his kids to the game and sits in the stands with his mitt I don’t think is any crazier than the fan who camps out to get tickets for Stars on Ice.” She characterizes the sport as a primarily feminine pursuit, and says the theatrical element attracts a certain fashion-conscious breed: “Girls who figure skate have always been able to be playing a sport and also playing dress-up at the same time…although for me, being a sports junkie, I don’t care what they’re wearing.”
Brennan wrote Inside Edge during a 10-month hiatus from the Washington Post Sports desk. The insider report, which covers the October ’94-April ’95 competitive season, is generous to Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, and Scott Hamilton; merciless to the undisciplined Tonya Harding, Christopher Bowman, and Nicole Bobek; and illuminating in terms of judging, a highly subjective pursuit. Brennan considers skating an ideal literary topic: “You want controversy, you want argument, you want people really mad,” she says. “It’s a wacky, nutty sport that’s just ripe for the journalistic picking.” Of course, in such a highly charged arena, perspectives can change in a matter of weeks—and some aspects of Inside Edge have inevitably gone out of date.
Brennan wishes, for instance, that she could have written more about Russian pairs skater Sergei Grinkov, who died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 20, 1995. She has also compiled more information on AIDS’s impact on figure skating, which she hopes to include in Inside Edge’s potential paperback version. And then there’s Rudy Galindo. While Brennan was collecting background information, she taped an interview with the then-underdog. “Rudy was a joke in figure skating,” she says. “I hate to be so blunt, but he wasn’t even a bit player. He was in [the book] just to be an example of the tragedy in the sport. But now, how thrilled am I to have put him in: The guy comes off the trash heap and wins the national championship.” Tissues, anyone? CP