VANCOUVER -- They've sat together and watched other athletes retire, have banners raised and go into Halls of Fame.
And they never got it.
"I always watched them and wondered 'Why are you crying? You had just a great career. It's a happy thing,' " said Jamie Sale.
Yesterday, as she and David Pelletier, the world champion and Olympic gold-medal winning pairs team out of Edmonton's Royal Glenora Club were inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame, she finally got it.
"I guess you just have to be in the moment," Sale said as she and her partner/husband left the Pacific Coliseum ice surface after an emotional ceremony filled with tears and laughter in what was both an absolute love-in and love story.
"It's so powerful," she said.
"All the focus is on you. What people are saying about you is so personal and means so much.
"It's impossible not to cry. Before I even came out I was crying," she said.
After watching an exceptionally well done video of highlights and tributes, Pelletier had tears in his eyes and rolling down his cheeks.
"Since our baby was born I've been watching Oprah and crying," he laughed when the hour-long ceremony was over.
"I don't know what happened. I know you have to have a lot of emotion in you to be a successful athlete. That's how you win. But lately, I'm crying all the time."
Pelletier said it was the video of their career together that got him.
Sale said with her it was more the tributes.
"The things people said was what kept me crying all the time. Like Jan Ullmark," she said of the Royal Glenora coach who took them to their world and Olympic titles.
"He was like a father to me and he reminded me that when I was pregnant I asked him if he was ready to be a grandpa.
"I had no idea how much that meant to him."
Sale spoke to the crowd first and began by thanking both parents for their "unconditional support" and "letting us go and just fly."
She thanked virtually everybody who touched their career including the media, leaving Pelletier to say, when it was his turn to speak, that there was "nobody left for me to thank except the academy and God."
But then he thanked his very first coach in small-town Quebec.
"When I was a kid I didn't like figure skating that much but I liked my coach," he said of Roland Paquet.
He thanked Richard Gauthier "who took two lost puppies and put us together."
And he thanked Olympic coach Ullmark.
"He was the missing piece of our puzzle."
He also thanked the Canadian skaters who competed at the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games for giving them both their Olympic dreams.
"Without them, it would have been different.
"I was not too in love with figure skating but I stayed in it because I liked my coach and I found a sport which turned out to be one of the best in the world.
"I might have quit and I'd never have met Jamie."
Then he thanked Jamie for her determination to continue skating when she struggled as a solo skater with no pairs partner.
He turned and spoke to her directly.
"You never quit. You never did. I thank you for that."
In the media room after the ceremony, Pelletier said more than anything that's what had him getting choked up, realizing how close it all came not to being, the journey, the worldchampionship, the Olympic gold, his marriage, his son and the happy ever after.
"I could never understand how somebody who competed in the Olympics in 1994 went all the way to 1998 without a new pairs partner. If she hadn't persevered ..."
He said no to her back in 1996.
"We weren't ready for each other in 1996. She was still a real cowboy," he laughed.
"Cowgirl," she corrected.
He said when she called again in 1998, "I was going to quit."
FELL IN LOVE
It took about a year and a half to fall in love after that, he said.
"She didn't like me very much in the beginning."
The love which was in their eyes for all the skaters, for all crowd to see, the realization, when it was over, ended up being one of the greatest moments of their entire career.