Nicole Bobek
Personal information
Country represented United States
Born (1977-08-23) August 23, 1977 (age 41)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Former coach Richard Callaghan
Carlo Fassi
Christa Fassi
Retired 1999

Nicole Bobek (born August 23, 1977) is a retired American figure skater. She is the 1995 U.S. national champion and 1995 World bronze medalist. She also competed at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Contents

  • 1 Personal life
  • 2 Skating career
  • 3 Endorsements
  • 4 Film
  • 5 Legal problems
  • 6 Recovery and later career
  • 7 Programs
  • 8 Results
  • 9 References

Personal life

Bobek was raised by her Czech mother Jana and Jana's friend Joyce Barron.[1] Nicole has never met her father.[1][2]

On January 24, 2017, Bobek married circus performer Pedro Santos Leal in Florida.[3]

Skating career

Bobek's interest in skating started when she was three.[2] Carlo Fassi coached her in 1989 and 1990 and then returned to Italy for three years.[4]

At age 11, Bobek won the novice silver medal at the 1989 U.S. Championships. In the next few seasons, she worked her way up the competitive rankings at the national level. She was known as an athletic jumper and a charismatic performer, but an erratic competitor and undisciplined student, often arriving late to training and skipping school.[1] Bobek placed 4th at the 1991 World Junior Championships, but the next year dropped to 16th at the same event. She made her first appearance at the senior World Championships in 1994, as an alternate (after both Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding dropped out of the event), but failed to advance out of the qualifying round. She was coached by Evy Scotvold until the summer of 1994.[5]

In late August 1994, Bobek joined Richard Callaghan at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.[6] On November 27, 1994, she sustained a deep puncture wound in her neck when she was attacked by a friend's dog, but she still competed at the Thrifty Car Rental International Challenge several days later.[7] The 1994–95 season brought Bobek her greatest competitive success; she won gold at the U.S. Championships, followed by the bronze medal at the World Championships. In late 1995, she toured with an ice show production of The Nutcracker, rather than rehabilitate an ankle injury or train for the upcoming 1996 U.S. Championships.[8] The injury forced her out of the event after the short program.[9] She changed coaches in the summer of 1996, joining Carlo Fassi at the Ice Castle International Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, California.[4]

Bobek struggled with back problems during the 1996-97 season but won the bronze medal at the 1997 U.S. Championships.[10] Her coach Carlo Fassi died from a heart attack at the 1997 World Championships.[9] She was coached for a time by his widow, Christa Fassi, in Lake Arrowhead, California.[5] She won bronze at the 1998 U.S. Nationals. At the 1998 Winter Olympics, she was impaired by a hip injury and finished in 17th-place.[1] She withdrew from the subsequent World Championships due to a hip injury.[11]

In the summer of 1998, Bobek left her coach, Christa Fassi, and returned to Richard Callaghan in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.[5][8] She finished 4th at the 1998 Skate America and won silver at the 1998 Trophée Lalique. She did not compete at the 1999 U.S. Championships. In August 1999, she began working with coach Kerry Leitch in Bradenton, Florida.[12] Bobek withdrew from her two Grand Prix assignments, the 1999 Sparkassen Cup on Ice and 1999 Trophée Lalique, after falling ill in early November with an internal infection and a reaction to prescription drugs.[12] She missed the qualifying events for the 2000 U.S. Championships and her application for a medical bye was declined.[13] Although Bobek suggested in an April 2000 interview that she had not ended her competitive career,[13] she never returned to competition.

Bobek toured with Champions on Ice for several years until 2004.[1] She also appeared in numerous other shows and professional competitions.

"[Bobek] coupled athleticism with ingenuity, choreographing her own routines and often improvising during performances. She was a master at playing to crowds who were wowed by her beauty and grace and a flexibility that seemed to ease her effortlessly into a trademark spiral move, her leg held straight up to her ear."
—ESPN.com sportswriter Amy K. Nelson on Bobek's skating.[2]

At her peak, Bobek was a strong jumper although some of her jumps did not have the best technique; for instance, she had a very marked flutz, (a lutz jump which is done from the wrong edge). She had a lasting impact on ladies' figure skating because of her signature move, a spiral with the free leg extended very high. Television commentators including Dick Button and Peggy Fleming were so complimentary of Bobek's spiral that it was widely copied by other U.S. skaters, setting off a fad for extreme flexibility moves.

Bobek was noted for her poor training discipline,[1] for occasionally smoking cigarettes, for wearing a lot of jewelry while performing on the ice, and for changing coaches at least 11 times during her competitive skating career. She trained in California, Michigan, Colorado, Florida and Virginia.[1] At one point she explained her behavior by saying: "I'm a teenager. That's what we do."[14] In addition to Richard Callaghan and Carlo and Christa Fassi, Bobek's coaches included Debbie Stoery, Kathy Casey, Hoon Kim, Barbara Roles, Frank Carroll, Robin Cousins, and Mary and Evy Scotvold.

Endorsements[edit]

Bobek's skating successes led to a contract with Campbell's Soup. Along with fellow skaters Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski, Bobek appeared in a commercial during the winter of 1998; the spot featured all three performing at an ice rink. (Heat from the soup melts the ice, which leaves all three young women standing in ankle-deep water.) She also appeared in a commercial of Panasonic's 1998 Winter Olympics campaign in Japan.[15]

Film

In 2006, Bobek appeared in the film All the King's Men, starring Sean Penn and based on the novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren. She played a skater who fascinates Governor Willy Stark in a scene directly from the novel.

Legal problems[edit]

In November 1994, Bobek was charged with first degree home invasion after she used an access code to enter a friend's garage and home in Michigan. She allegedly took cash from a purse, but was caught when the home owner arrived, at which point she returned the money. She claimed that she was given permission by another member of the household to enter the house and retrieve the cash.

At that time, Bobek was 17 years old and legally an adult under Michigan criminal law,[16] but she was eligible for probation with a record of the offense sealed from the public record under a special law for youthful first offenders. She pleaded guilty under that law, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, and in January 1995 was given two years' probation and a choice between 50 hours of community service and 30 days in jail. Information regarding her case soon spread widely through skating circles and was leaked to the news media. Under the Youthful Trainee Act, cases are to remain confidential; so in February 1995, she filed for dismissal of her case. Though journalists and legal scholars have argued that Michigan law allows journalists to release information about juvenile criminals if there is "compelling public interest,"[17] which was arguable due to her status as a world class figure skater, Bobek's motion for probation discharge was granted by the court.[18]

In late 2006, Nicole Bobek's mother made and dropped a petition to have her sent to rehab, worrying her daughter would break off contact.[1] On July 6, 2009, Bobek was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and was alleged to be a member of a drug ring.[19] On June 18, 2010, she pleaded guilty,[20] and on August 16 was sentenced to five years' probation,[21][22] 250 hours of community service, and a $2,500 fine.[21]

Recovery and later career[edit]

Bobek admitted that she is a former drug addict, and said on NBC's Today Show that she wants to help other addicts beat their addictions and would like to do ice show charity benefits. She began taking classes toward a high school equivalency diploma, and working at Palm Beach Skate Zone in Lake Worth, Florida,[1] after having been away from skating for about six years.[8] She did various jobs around the rink, initially unpaid but later officially hired, with the manager saying she was very professional.[1] In 2010, she began teaching power skating and edge skills to junior hockey players at the rink.[1] Her friend Todd Eldredge invited her to a Stars on Ice show, where she reconnected with her old coach Richard Callaghan and began visiting him once a week to get back in shape.[8]

Bobek returned to performing at the Skate for Love benefit for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in April 2011, hosted by her friend JoJo Starbuck.[8] Bobek said, "I've been back on the ice about a year now. It took me a long time to get my balance again after six years; you really lose the rotation and all of those things. It took three months to do a single Axel again."[8] By January 2012, she had recovered all of her double jumps except the axel.[23] In November 2011, Bobek said: "I'm blessed that I've been given a second chance in life. Life is so much better now. I think I was in a dark place and now I believe that I have God on my side. I'm very positive about things and very focused. I truly believe that I've bloomed into a different kind of person.”[24] Steve Disson gave her a contract to appear in his skating shows which are aired on NBC.[23] She has appeared in the Caesars Palace Tribute II: A Salute to the Ladies of the Ice and other skating shows.[23][24]

Bobek has also trained on trapeze and aerial hoops at the South Florida Circus Arts School.[23] She has performed with the Rainbow Circus in Miami.[25]

Programs

Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
     
  • Cabaret

  • I Need to Know
    by Marc Anthony
  • Let's Get Loud
    by Jennifer Lopez

  • Somewhere in Time

  • Imagine
1998–1999    
  • The Mask of Zorro
1997–1998
  • Zorba the Greek
    by Herb Alpert
  • Invitation to Dance
  • Victory March
    by Giuseppe Verdi
  • Somewhere in Time
1996–1997  
  • Giselle
 
1995–1996
  • Don Juan DeMarco
  • Evita
    by Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • 1492: Conquest of Paradise
    by Vangelis
 
1994–1995
  • Russian folk
    from Moiseyev Dances
  • Doctor Zhivago
    by Maurice Jarre
  • Circle of Life
    (from Lion King)
  • Sacrifice
    by Sinead O'Connor
1993–1994
  • Russian folk
    from Moiseyev Dances
   

Results

GP: Champions Series / Grand Prix

International[26]
Event 88–89 89–90 90–91 91–92 92–93 93–94 94–95 95–96 96–97 97–98 98–99
Olympics                   17th  
Worlds           25th 3rd   13th    
GP Cup of Russia                   6th  
GP Lalique           5th         2nd
GP Nations Cup               3rd      
GP Skate America         6th   7th 6th     4th
GP Skate Canada                   5th  
Goodwill Games           7th          
Vienna Cup       1st              
International: Junior[26]
Junior Worlds     4th   16th            
National[26]
U.S. Championships 2nd N 4th J 8th 7th 5th 3rd 1st WD 3rd 3rd  
U.S. Olympic Festival   7th 1st                
Levels: N = Novice; J = Junior. WD = Withdrew