Bobek not skating on thin ice anymore

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Nicole Bobek

Nicole Bobek performs for Improv-Ice. (Brittany Evans / Disson Skating / December 16, 2013)

Bobek looks better than ever. In the past year, she lost 10 pounds almost incidentally from training on trapeze and aerial hoops at the South Florida Circus Arts School. She hopes to incorporate circus routines on the ice. For now, the improved physical condition has helped her recapture all her old double jumps except the axel.

"When she first came to me, it was amazing how much she had to relearn," Callaghan said. "I could see her frustration, but she plugged through it."

Bobek spends about a week each month living with Starbuck and her family in Madison, N.J. She has moved from her mother's house to an apartment near the Skate Zone. She needs to retake — and pass — the math test to earn her high school equivalency diploma.

Her lawyer has been gathering testimonials to ask for a reduction of the probation. Starbuck is among those writing on her behalf.

"The drastic transformation I see in her is like Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol,''' Starbuck said. "She woke up one morning ready to be grateful and generous."

Bobek has skated free in several charity shows, including a breast cancer benefit three weeks ago in New York. She has been invited to Figure Skating in Harlem's April "Skating With the Stars" gala. As a star.

"I knew what I needed to do more than anything was get in shape and prove to myself I still had this in me," Bobek said. "I had to accept the gifts God has given me and use them to my fullest instead of pushing them away. I'm married to my sport more than anything now."

She understands that self-realization may not have been possible without having lost her way so badly after abandoning skating for the literal high life several years ago.

"What I went through was a blessing in disguise," she said. "As painful as it was, all that stuff really bloomed me into the person I need to be and want to be."

The Improv show, where the skaters have to invent a program only hours after learning what their music is, was the perfect vehicle for Bobek. It also was another way to prove she is able to handle a mother of a job: Reinventing herself.

(Improv Ice will air again on the Ovation Network Thursday at 7 and 9 p.m.)

Twitter @olyphil
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