Ice Network

Kadavy holds memories of Calgary Olympics dear

Minnesota resident uses past experiences to impart wisdom on students
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Caryn Kadavy may have had to withdraw from the 1988 Calgary Games because of illness, but she still looks back fondly on her Olympic experience. -Courtesy of Tam Bui

It's been nearly seven years since Caryn Kadavy left her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, for Minneapolis, where her husband, Carter Doolittle, accepted a job transfer. While she misses her condo on the lake, the move put Kadavy's coaching career into high gear.

"There are so many wonderful rinks and people. It's very exciting," said Kadavy, who coaches at SQSA Parade, Shattuck-St. Mary's School and Braemar City of Lakes Figure Skating Club. "It's been fantastic. Here in Minneapolis, I feel I've been in touch with so many great coaches. I love the city, personally and professionally. Even if it's cold, the sun is out."

Kadavy has her own students and also does supplemental work with several coaches. Three of her skaters, including a juvenile boy, are bound for the Midwestern Sectional Figure Skating Championships, which take place in Bloomington, Minnesota, in mid-November. In addition to her coaching duties, Kadavy also assists several Houston-based skaters with their choreography.

When she coaches, Kadavy often calls upon her own competitive and professional experiences. Despite her musicality and style, Kadavy didn't qualify for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships until she reached the senior level.

In 1987, she won bronze at the world championships, and a year later traveled to Calgary for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games.

"The Opening Ceremony was very exciting -- walking in with your teammates, seeing the whole stadium color coded (individuals had been given hooded ponchos that formed the Olympic rings)," she said. "It was during the day, so it was a different look and feel than today, but still very emotional.

"You felt like you arrived and your dreams really did come true," she added. "Wonderful memories I will have forever. It's something I feel grateful about that it happened to me."

Once the opening ceremonies were over, Kadavy returned to Colorado Springs to train, since the ladies competition wasn't scheduled until the end of the Games. When she got back to the Olympic Village, she found that a couple of her suitemates (she stayed with seven other female figure skaters) had fallen ill.

"I came down with the flu," Kadavy said.

She skated well in the figures and short program, putting her in medal contention, but after the short, her temperature went up to 103.5. Despite the doctors' best efforts, Kadavy's fever remained high, and she ultimately had to withdraw.

"I was grateful I competed," she said. "I have the memory of being out in the middle of the ice with the Olympic rings, American flags in the audience and the cheering. I feel I did get my Olympic experience and forever I am an Olympian."

While she was disappointed about having her Olympic experience disrupted by illness, Kadavy moved on quickly. She turned professional in 1989 and went on to enjoy a long career of touring, shows and pro competitions.

"My career has taken me so far," she said. "The Olympics were a very big dream that came true for me."

At present, Kadavy is enjoying her life, especially when it comes to helping her students advance their abilities. Coaching allows her to share with others all that she learned as a competitive skater.

"Skating is my education and something I truly love," Kadavy said. "I want the kids to feel that same joy. It's part of the legacy people have shared with you that you want to continue."