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February 22, 1991 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-02-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SPORTS

Ice Dancers

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Continued from preceding page

started skating with Mike in
1978."
The expenses of the sport
drained her family during
Judy's early years on the
ice.
"We had to scrimp and
save for all of Judy's lessons
and costumes," recalled
Topper Blumberg, Judy's
father, a clothing manufac-
turer in Los Angeles. "There
was also the cost of ballet
and dance instructors as
well as the cost of traveling
to the tournaments... My
wife, Barbara, literally sew-
ed jewels on Judy's cos-
tumes every night until the
wee hours of the morning."
But Blumberg's parents
think the sacrifices were
worth it.
"Judy tried so very, very
hard," her father recalled.
"When I saw her give so
much of her time for
skating, I felt that I would
do anything possible to
make her dreams come
true."
Her dreams began to
flourish in 1978 at age 17
when she met Seibert.
"We were both willing to
work hard, sacrifice whatev-
er was necessary in order to
grow as performers," she
said. "We worked with some
of the finest coaches in the
U.S. and abroad as well as
members of the American
Ballet Theatre to improve
our creativity. Many people
contributed to our success."
In 1980 success came to
the duo when 19-year-old
Blumberg and 20-year-old
Seibert began a five year
reign as America's national
ice dancing champions.
Their most memorable pro-
grams were the frequently
changing dance numbers
performed to the music from
the movies of Fred Astaire
and Ginger Rogers.
Much like Fred and Gin-
ger, Blumberg and Seibert
looked like elegant artists
whose movements were
clear and uncluttered. It was
easy to forget that this ele-
gance was done with skates
on ice. They performed so
well as a team and spent so
much time together that
many linked them roman-
tically.
"What people thought
and what was reality was
different," said Seibert dur-
ing an interview in 1981.
"Judy and I really do care
for each other, but only as
friends. Although at one
time, I was thinking about
converting to Judaism to be
with her," laughed Seibert.
Not everything was rosy
for Blumberg-Seibert after
winning their final national
championship in 1984. After

failing to win a medal at the
1980 Olympics, their career
was on the upswing and
they were prepared to finally
win big at the 1984 Olympics.
But that was not to be.
Believing that judges
would be impressed with
classical routines, Blumberg
and Seibert appeared superb
in their performance of
Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sche-
herezade" at the 1984 Olym-
pic Games. They expected a
bronze medal. And the crowd
booed and hissed when a
Soviet couple won the bronze,
instead.
"It took a long time to get
over the disappointment,"
Blumberg said. "It was es-
pecially tough because we

"Growing up in Los
Angeles combined
with the fact that
nobody else in my
family ever laced
skates made me a
bit unusual."

—Judy Blumberg

were closing our careers as
amateurs. We honestly
thought that we won the
bronze... After all the hard
work and preparation, it was
difficult to accept that we
would leave the Olympics
without winning a medal."
To their credit, Blumberg
and Seibert bounced back
when they turned profes-
sional after the 1984 Olym-
pics. Almost immediately,
they found success in win-
ning the bronze for finishing
third in the World Profes-
sional Championship. By
1988, they emerged as the
World Professional Ice Dan-
cing Champions.
"In many ways, Judy and
Mike only began to blossom
after the 1984 Olympics,"
recalled McBrien. "Within
the framework of the Olym-
pics, they had to undergo
many compulsory dances
and routines that really
didn't suit their style.
Seibert, who was always
choreographing new rou-
tines, became more in-
novative."
Blumberg said the new
freedom made the duo better
performers.
"We wanted to develop a
style on the ice that was
unique," Blumberg said.
"Unlike the amateur days,
we were now in the same
program as Scott Hamilton,
Dorothy Hamill, Debi
Thomas, and it just inspired
us to leave our own mark as
professional ice dancers."
Their hard work has
reaped many dividends. De-

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