Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005


To the casual skating fan, Tai Babilonia and partner Randy Gardner are simply “The Heartbreak Kids,” the Pair team that had to withdraw from the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid because of Randy’s groin injury.

But there is more to the team than one very well publicized, unfortunate competition. Tai and Randy began skating together in 1970, when they were nine and eleven years old. Their coach had to bribe them with candy-bars just to get the two giggling kids to hold hands. By 1973, however, the now 12 and 14 year old wonders won the U.S. Junior Pairs title. A year later, they were second in Senior Pairs, and three years later they were the U.S. Senior Pair Champions.

In 1979, they became the first American World Pair Champions since Karol and Peter Kennedy in 1950 (in second place that year were Great Britain's Jennifer and John Nicks; John was the coach who guided Tai and Randy to their World title).

But for Tai, there were other, less publicized firsts, as well. She was the first African-American skater to compete at the elite level, although Tai stresses that she was actually a mixture of many cultures, including that of her African-American mother. “My dad was Filipino and Hopi Indian, so I was the first biracial skater.”

Her race didn’t hinder Tai in any way during competition, she asserts. “I just knew what I had to do out there. I was to be the best skater I could be, color had nothing to do with it. That’s what my first coach, Mabel Fairbanks (an African-American woman who wasn’t allowed to compete at the National level, but became a star in professional ice-shows), brought and taught us. No matter what color you are -- Asian, Black, Hispanic, White -- when you got out there, give them the goods.”

And, a quarter of a century after their televised heartbreak, Tai and Randy are preparing to “give them the goods,” once again in Lake Placid.

“I’m going to Lake Placid at the end of the month for the 25th Anniversary,” Tai revealed while in New York City to support one of her favorite charities, Figure Skating in Harlem. “They’re bringing the hockey team back, (Olympic Silver Medallist) Linda Fratianne is skating, (Olympic Team Member-5th place) Lisa-Marie Allen, too. Randy and I are skating. We haven’t been on that ice since 1980. It’s very exciting.”

COMING SOON: Elvis Stojko, Viktor Petrenko, Surya Bonaly, Rocky Marval and more!

For a chance to win free copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice," please visit


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