Hall of Fame welcomes trio grande of Canuck 'originals'

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- They were the originals. The skaters who were there at the beginning, when Canada went from being a hit-and-miss nation in figure skating to one where success was expected on a regular basis from year to year.

And here yesterday, Brian Orser and the pairs team of Barb Underhill and Paul Martini were inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame together.

"It was very moving and very emotional. Really emotional," said Underhill. "It's like Paul said 'This is our last moment.' This is the end of where we go."

It also brought back the beginning.

"We opened it up," she said of the three. "We were the beginning of the support. In 1980 my family couldn't handle the expenses any longer. My parents had to re-mortgage the house twice. We were ready to give it up and go to Disney On Ice for peanuts.

"When they started the funding, we could concentrate on the things we had to do on the ice."

Back then, the goal for Canadian figure skaters was different said Martini.

"You wanted to make the world team and make your appearance at Worlds and move on," he said of finishing 11th twice.

"That was when they created the legacy we're seeing today."

Twenty-five years ago, at the World Figure Skating Championships in Ottawa, Underhill and Martini won the gold medal they were supposed to win the year before at the1984 Olympics in Sarajevo when they suffered the despair and distress of finishing seventh.

The ecstasy which followed the agony provided a feel good story in Canadian sport when they had their triumphant return to win that gold.

Underhill remembers a moment, just before the Ottawa Worlds, when she was such a mess that she was about to quit. Orser saw her sobbing after a practice and made asuggestion.

"Why don't you try last year's skates?" he said.

The rest is history.

The rest of the afternoon Orser went about trying to make history as a coach of Kim Yu-Na of Korea.

"Gee, now that I'm a coach, do I get to go again?" he said of one of the other categories for induction. "It's just such a huge honour."

Also inducted here was Canadian referee and judge Joyce Hisey of Toronto.


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