Things have changed quite a bit since Dorothy Hamill won a gold medal in figure skating back in 1976.
With her short and sassy hairdo, the 5’4” dynamo became the last figure skater to take home the top prize at the Olympics by performing just double jumps. These days, athletes are expected to show off triple jumps at the very least.
“They have to do such difficult things right now,” says Hamill.
But the physical demands aren’t the only things that have shifted. Hamill says entering the sport, with costumes that can cost thousands of dollars -- let alone turning professional -- is much harder now, too.
“I used to skate on a pond, go to public sessions and spend all day [there] for $5,” says Hamill.
Heightened media attention and intense international competition have put today’s skaters under more pressure, she says.
“My heart goes out to them because they’re so young.”
Hamill’s comments come a day after the Olympics’ short program, in which all three female American figure skaters took tumbles on the ice, putting together the worst performance in the event since before Hamill’s time.
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