Rice on ice, not skates
MOSCOW ” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a competitive figure skater in her teens, returned to the ice on Saturday but shied away from lacing up to show off her jumps and spins.
After two days of frosty meetings with Russian officials, Rice jumped at the chance to visit young skaters at Moscow’s Central Army Sports Club, where she got a much warmer welcome and loud applause from the 7- to 17-year-olds practicing in the chilly rink.
Wearing high heels and a dark grey suit, the former Soviet expert and fluent Russian speaker stepped gingerly onto a blue rug laid out on the ice. She posed for photos with the larger group and accepted a bouquet of flowers from an aspiring young star.
“Spins,” the girl replied when Rice asked her in Russian what her favorite part of skating was. “All of them.”
Many of those at the rink had hoped to see the top American diplomat hit the ice to try a leap or two. But Rice demurred, saying she no longer owns skates, hadn’t skated in a decade and didn’t want to embarrass herself.
“There’s this theory that ice skating is like riding a bicycle, you just get back on and you immediately know how to do it,” she said with a chuckle. “I’m not going to take that chance, just in case it’s not true.”
Rice began skating competitively at age 12 when her family moved to Denver, Colorado. She gave it up at 17 when she was no longer willing to make pre-dawn practice sessions.
“I retired at the end of my freshman year (in college) when I realized that I no longer liked not being able to go out with my friends so I could get up at five o’clock in the morning to go skating,” she said.