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            Jim's story
 

My story about meeting Pasha is not as exciting as how Anushka met her for
the first time but it was still so very exciting to me. I met Pasha a little
over three years ago when my daughter Suzanna and I joined the New England
Figure Skating Club in Marlboro. At the time of joining the club we knew no
one there so we used to spend a lot of time watching the worldclass skaters
practice. At that time such names as Maria Butyrskaya, Ilia Kulik, Irina
Romanova and Igor Yaroshenko, and many others were skating there on and off
under Tatiana Tarasova. I was surprised because almost everyone would say
hello to you when you walked in the rink. My biggest surprise though was
Pasha. She had just begun having herself called Pasha from her given name of
Oksana. I used to spend hours watching her practice with her then partner
Evgeny Platov. I was shocked at how they would do things over and over and
over again, almost to the point of exhaustion. At that time I did not know
who she was until one of the other dance skaters told me. I was shocked
because eventhough she was in practice-clothes she was one of the most
beautiful people I had ever seen. I was even more shocked when one day I was
watching some of the dancers and Pasha walked up to where I was sitting and
said hello to me. She mentioned that she had seen me watching her practice
numerous times but that she did not know who I was. I almost could not talk
but somehow managed to introduce myself. We talked for a few minutes and she
excused herself and went downstairs to practice. Again her practice was one
of the hardest I had ever seen. It really shocked me because as a non-skater
I had always felt that singles and pairs were real skating and that dance
was not that hard. Boy did I learn differently. Practice ended and
eventhough she was dead tired she took the time to assist some of the other
dancers. It was strange to me because these people were worldclass skaters
themselves, members of their countries Olympic Teams and would soon be
trying to beat Pasha for the gold in Nagano. I thought this was strange as
I had heard that Pasha was hard to get along with. I found out it was quite
different. She was a real gem. I was even more surprised when after the
practice she came upstairs said hello to me and most of all she remembered
my name. Imagine my shock. I was on cloud nine. From then on, if I was there
she would come over to where I was sitting and prepare for practice. My big
thrill was one day she actually put her hand on my shoulder and used me to
help her stretch. I was in shock. Here the best skater in the world was
having me help her stretch for practice for the Olympic Games. Again it may
not sound like much but when I was there she would always either come next
to me or call me over. I really felt like someone because people from my own
club were yet to accept me as one of them but yet I was accepted by an
Olympic Champion who was not even from my country. Finally though I was
accepted enough that I got to work backstage for our yearly United Way show.
Pasha was one of the skaters and eventhough many people were around her
trying to do things for her she asked me to help her watch her equipment and
retrieve any items she accidentally threw into the audience during her
routine. She said that she trusted me and asked me to be the one to do it. I
felt so proud because she remembered me. I was also surprised that just
prior to her going to Nagano she asked me for my address. I was even more
shocked when just after the Olympics ended and I got a beautiful letter, a
card and souvenir from Nagano from Pasha. I also got a beautiful picture.
Pasha came back for only a short time but remembered me and made sure she
said hello. I was so heartbroken when she left Marlboro. A wonderful thing
though has happened since she left. We keep in almost complete touch. We
share and trade birthday and Christmas presents, mail, and e-mail constantly
and have and will forever remain good friends. She has became good friends
with my daughter, met my son and wife and is always asking about them. She
has become a real friend and the same as a member of my family. I cannot
wait to some day see her again and have a great reunion. I have learned
never to believe any stories you hear about someone. Make up your own mind
about them. Your opinion might be different than theirs. If I had believed
any of the rumors told about Pasha I would have lost a true and wonderful
friend. That would be my familie's loss.

Jim Hodges