December 14, 1999
Robert Wagenhoffer will represent to me a cross-section example of some of the wonderful and troubling things about ice skating.
He was a frustrated young personality that, despite his incredible talents, really found no resource within our skating industry to help him out.
After a sudden departure from the amateur ranks accompanied by hushed rumours of veiled offenses, he forged a professional career that was, at times, equal to or besting those Olympians around him.
I've never known someone to jump so breathlessly. When a skater can make really great skaters whistle low at their triple jump command...that's impressive.
I remember watching his triple loop in his long program at Nationals in '82 in Indianapolis and thinking: "THAT'S amazing!" He laughed when I told him about it years later, tucking his long hair behind his ears giving me a look of innocent refusal.
His feet were more nimble and sure on difficult steps than he ever knew. Many times I've heard at shows and pro competitions his contemporaries drop what they were doing backstage and say, "Oooh...Robert's on-- gotta go watch."
He was a person who could be utterly forgiving of shortcomings around him, suggesting to me a hunger for forgiveness that was never extended to him.
Skating in some ways has moved forward in the respect that as an industry, we now have the tools to help young talent work through broken homes, addictions, abusive parents and coaches and officials...to hopefully see those young people blossom into wonderful adults...
All of us thank you for helping us see what we needed, Robert... ...and for me-- I'll miss you.