Melting the Ice
01/13/2003 at 01:00 AM EST
In weddings, as in skating, you need the right footwear. Hamilton found out the hard way, spending his wedding eve in search of bridal shoes for his betrothed, Tracie Robinson. "We had images of her wearing skate boots without blades," says Jef Billings, who designed Robinson's dress. "They were the only white shoes we could find!"
Skates would have been an apt choice. Two years after meeting backstage at an ice show in Memphis and three months after he proposed to her on center ice following a cancer research benefit in Cleveland, Hamilton, 44, and Robinson, 33, said their "I do's" Dec. 14 in Malibu, Calif.
"My life was perfect before," says Hamilton. "It's even more perfect now." The 19 guests, including fellow skaters Kristi Yamaguchi (see next page) and Brit Steven Cousins, were thrilled to see Hamilton flip for former nutritionist Robinson. "The Olympics were a blip in the road compared to this," says Cousins, one of his best men. After honeymooning on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Hamilton will guest-star on the Smucker's Stars on Ice tour (and appear in the show's Jan. 5 broadcast on NBC), with Robinson in tow. They hope to start a family, even though Hamilton underwent treatment in 1997 for testicular cancer. "If it's meant to be, it will be," he says. "If it isn't, I was adopted, and I turned out okay!"
Even with two World Championships and the 1992 Winter Games gold medal under her belt, Yamaguchi was really feeling the pressure during her most recent performance. "She was nervous," says husband Bret Hedican, who watched as she cooked her first-ever Thanksgiving turkey. As usual, she triumphed, receiving 6.0s from the judges (13 members of Hedican's family). "Everyone said it was really moist," she says proudly.
Such meaty opportunities prompted Yamaguchi last spring to ditch her 10-year stint on the Stars on Ice skating tour. Although she returned to the rink for Alberto VO5's Divas on Ice Starring Katerina Witt, a Jan. 4 NBC special also featuring Nancy Kerrigan and Ekaterina Gordeeva (all profiled on the following pages), "I'm changing my focus," says Yamaguchi, 31. After marrying Hedican, now a defensive guard for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, in 2000, "I realized that there were more important things than performing in all those different cities." There have been other changes too: Living outside Raleigh, N.C., during hockey season (they also have homes in Brainard, Minn., and the San Francisco Bay Area), "friends and family say I'm picking up a southern drawl!" she says, laughing.
Enjoying her newfound free time, Yamaguchi is tending to her Always Dream Foundation (which she created in 1996 to support underprivileged kids) and plans to take classes in dance, piano and, she hopes, Lamaze. "Her mother keeps saying she needs a picture of a grandchild for her locket," says Hedican, 32, adding that they are "really looking forward" to starting a family. They're still debating when to finish it, though. "I want one or two; he wants three or four," she says. "We'll have to work that out."
She still can't escape the Question. "Kids ask me, 'How's the knee?' " says Kerrigan, referring to her 1994 clubbing attack by fellow skater Tonya Harding's then-husband, which occurred six weeks before Kerrigan won a silver medal at the Olympics. "I don't sit at home thinking about it, so I don't think other people should be, either." Besides, she's too busy to live in the past. In the past year Kerrigan published an instructional book, Artistry on Ice, recorded a song, "The Distance," which she was scheduled to skate to during Brian Boitano's Skating Spectacular Jan. 1, hosted an international skating competition for Lifetime and toured with Champions on Ice. "She just seems to handle it all," says mom Brenda. "Last week she cut my son Mark's hair, and he's 38."
If Kerrigan has any complaints, it is that her family with Jerry Solomon, her agent, who married her in 1995, isn't larger. "That's Matthew's Christmas wish a lot: a brother or a sister," says Kerrigan, 33, who has weathered several miscarriages since giving birth to Matthew in 1996. "I could dwell on it, but that's a waste of time." Instead she makes Matthew her top priority, scheduling her life around his. "She walks Matthew to the bus every morning," says Solomon, 47. "And she's there when he gets home."
Mother and son occasionally bond at a skating rink near their Lynnfield, Mass., home. "He tries bunny hops, little tricks," says Kerrigan, adding that she needs to work on her coaching techniques. "He doesn't listen to me teach him too much. He'd rather listen to somebody else."
It's been seven years since Sergei Grinkov, Gordeeva's husband and fellow Olympic pairs gold medalist in 1988 and '94, died of a heart attack at 28. Gordeeva, then 24, was shattered. "She's moved on since then and is so happy," says longtime pal Lea Ann Miller. Last June 10, in a private ceremony in San Francisco, Gordeeva, now 31, wed Ilia Kulik, 25, whom she had met on tour in 1998 after he mined Olympic gold in men's figure skating. Now looking toward a possible coaching career, Gordeeva has scaled back her performances and practices to stay closer to the four-bedroom L.A. home she and Kulik share with their 18-month-old daughter Elizaveta and Daria, 10, Gordeeva's daughter with Grinkov. "I'm trying to live more for the kids," she says. Reuniting with her former rivals on Divas, she says, "It was nice to talk about families."
"I'm having a diva moment," says Witt, puttering about her Berlin duplex in clunky powder-blue slippers while scarfing down a chocolate cake a friend recently baked for her 37th birthday. Her exasperated stylist wants her to hold still for a moment. "But I want to eat my cake first," Witt protests, laughing. "The makeup can wait." Today the gregarious German diva, an Olympic gold medalist in 1984 and '88, really can have her cake and eat it too. She not only stars in and coproduces the Divas on Ice special, she also has her own lines of jewelry and cosmetics and a skating movie in the pipeline. "I live to work, my heart is in my profession. It's very difficult for me to wind down," says the two-time German Playboy cover girl, who manages to steal quality time with her boyfriend, Dave Hoffis, 38, the Stars on Ice tour director she began dating last spring. But she has no plans to start a family. "I'm worried if I have a baby now, this is it [for my career]," she says, "because there are not so many more years left."