I didn't study dance. I had some ballet lessons because I needed it for posture and for my arms, mostly. My skating coach said I really needed it, from the belly button up, as opposed to the footwork. In skating, the shoes don't move.
I wanted to learn how to skate backwards and they wouldn't help me and they went off and left me on my own.
In group lesson number six I think we learned how to turn backwards and then just kind of wiggle. That wasn't really skating backward, but I guess I was going in the right direction.
When I was growing up, there were very few women athletes. I remember watching Olga Corbett, but Peggy Fleming and Janet Lynn were my role models. I never dreamt that I could be at that level. I remember thinking they seemed so elegant and regal and powerful and feminine.
I always had short hair, and I hated my short hair. I was always mistaken for a boy, but my mom wouldn't let me change my hair because she was always chasing me around with a hairbrush, and it was always tangled, so she just would cut it off, and she's right: short hair did suit me.
It took me two years to get an appointment with Mr. Suga who cut my hair for the Olympics. Who knew? I had no idea that it would be popular.
In my teen years leading up to the Olympics, I loved having the excuse to skip out on parties because of skating. Partying wasn't my thing anyway. Mostly I hung out with other skaters. We were all buddies, so it's not like I missed out on socializing. I was really enjoying myself.
I was passionate. I found something that I loved. I could be all alone in a big old skating rink and nobody could get near me and I didn't have to talk to anybody because of my shyness. It was great. I was in my fantasy world.
It's different today than it was then. In those days we were strictly amateurs. If I had wanted to stay in for the '80 Olympics, my parents couldn't have afforded it.
Everybody has to deal with tough times. A gold medal doesn't make you immune to that. A skater is used to falling down and getting up again.
Our family life, before figure skating turned it upside down, seemed normal. Our town of Riverside, Connecticut, was part of Greenwich, and we had the advantage of their wonderful community, with great beaches and beautiful parks.
My parents believed in exposing each of their children to an abundance of varied activities in the hope they would find something they loved. They each had found a passion - Dad with his music and Mom with her horses - so it was natural for them to encourage experimentation.