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3:33 Sports Short #36 // An Icy Romance by Lareign Ward

A man in an overly sheer white shirt grabbing a woman by the waist and flinging her into the air would not normally be my idea of a good time, especially when both man and woman have razor blades sticking out of their shoes. Yet as a teenager, watching a pairs figure skating team pull off a successful throw jump was one of my favorite things about the Winter Olympics, even if I had no idea it was called a throw jump.

I assumed every couple on ice was secretly a little bit in love with each other, even if they didn’t want to admit it. I was very sad when I found out that some of those couples skating together were actually brother and sister.

Now I’m an adult, and I know that even non-related skaters have achieved successful careers together without once Frenching. To assume otherwise would be like yelling “YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME!” every time a guy friend hugs me, and I stopped doing that in college. I am sure that some of the pairs can barely stand each other off the ice, that somehow all that chemistry that works so well in the rink evaporates the minute the skate guards go back on.   

Yet here’s what still gets me: No other sport that I can think of requires you to be so physically dependent on another person. Sure, football and basketball are team sports, but teammates are throwing balls down the field, not each other. If the guy in skates whiffs on the throw, then his partner won’t be intercepted by his rival from Russia, but she might crack her head open in front of a national television audience.

If it goes right, though? Then it’s just you and the air around you. You’re flying, or at least I want to believe it feels that way.

I tried ice skating once in high school. Even if I’ve known since junior high that I have the athleticism of a Thermos, I wanted to believe I had enough grace to at least stay upright and glide around the rink. Heck, maybe I’d even wink at my crush as I skated past him. He had a name that rhymed with mine. That alone should have made us a great team, but no. Instead I hugged the railing, pushing aside a few six-year-olds as I scrambled to gain any sort of solid footing.

So ladies, do it for me and the other earth-bound peasants. Bask in those throw jumps, even if the same guy who just flung you into the air only communicates to you via fart noises off the rink.

You don’t have to be in love with him, but my teenage self really wants you to be love with something, even if it’s just the way your skirt whips around you as you rotate. Because that giddy sense of weightlessness never lasts long enough. Even I know that.

Lareign Ward has been published in Atticus Review, Lilac City Fair Tales, Big Lucks, and others.