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Seattle skating community shows love for Hosier

Benefit show raises $40,000 for local coach diagnosed with colon cancer

Darin Hosier (center) stands with Ben Agosto (left) and Michael Weiss.
Darin Hosier (center) stands with Ben Agosto (left) and Michael Weiss. (Kiel Van Inwegen)

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By Douglas Webster, special to icenetwork.com
(07/19/2013) - "Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back."

-- Jodi Picoult, Second Glance

These words embody the spirit of a standing-room-only skating benefit called "Skate for Coach Darin," which was held July 13 at Highland Ice Arena in Seattle.

Darin Hosier was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer last fall. He just completed his 12th round of chemotherapy and faces a serious operation Sept. 6 in Spokane, Wash.

"Skate for Coach" was created to help raise money to cover Hosier's medical expenses, and the skating community has taken note, raising nearly $40,000 to date.

"It was a really wonderful experience performing in the show for Darin," said five-time U.S. champion and Olympic silver medalist Ben Agosto, who skated a routine as a janitor with a mop. "The figure skating community is so small and close knit that I really feel like it is part of my family. It never ceases to amaze me how figure skating has the power to bring so many people together to help a good cause. We are very lucky that our sport gives us the unique ability to help people by doing what we love."

The emcee of the event was 1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi.

"It was an emotional and powerful evening of skating," Yamaguchi said. "You could see through the performances how much coach Darin is admired and loved. It was an honor to be included in this special event."

Willa Zhou has been coached by Hosier for many years. She has learned a lot about skating but also about life from her longtime mentor.

"To find strength from love is something we all can do. I had no self-esteem, and being coached by Darin gave me hope to do what I love and to become a stronger person. That strength came from love and support," Zhou said. "Darin showed me that I could jump (too). He represented strength, stability and support for me. I became a stronger person on and off the ice thanks to Darin."

Other students of Hosier's, including 2012 U.S. senior ladies collegiate champion Chrissy Hughes and 2010 U.S. novice pewter medalist Amanda Hoffman, gave heartfelt and powerful performances. In all, seven of Hosier's students performed solos and 120 skaters took part in the show, including 11 of his alumnae students.

A number of local clubs and coaches presented ensemble pieces in which each member stood in his or her space and declared: "This is for you, Darin."

Director Corrie Martin chose pieces of Hosier's favorite music to add a special touch to the evening.

"I have always been proud of our students; however, I have never been more proud of each one of them and for being part of the skating community as I was this evening," Martin said.

Two notable skating celebrities, and friends of Hosier's, took the ice as well: 2010 U.S. champion and Olympian Rachael Flatt, and two-time world bronze medalist and two-time Olympian Michael Weiss.

"Darin is such a wonderful coach -- not only because of his contributions to the sport but more so because of the person he is," Flatt said. "Needless to say, the atmosphere in the rink during the show reflected how much we all care for Darin and the strength of the support system he has pulling for him. It was a great success, and I am so fortunate and happy I had the opportunity to participate."

Before his performance, Weiss -- returning to the ice for the first time after a seven-month break -- had Yamaguchi read the following to the audience: "At 10 years old, I grew up training alongside Darin in Fairfax, Virginia. Darin was the well-trained teenager who was nailing triple flips while speeding around the rink at speeds my little 10-year-old brain never thought possible. I looked up to Darin as a skating role model, and thanks to his inspiration, I went on to have a successful skating career.

"As an adult, he continues to inspire, and I am honored to be part of the show and to help in the way I know how: by skating."

Hosier and Weiss shared the same coach, Audrey Weisiger, for many years. Weisiger traveled all the way across the country, from her home base in Virginia, to spend the evening with many of her former students.

"The benefit show for Darin is testimony to the person he is," Weisiger said. "People that know him through skating are family to him, and those that did not know him well got to enjoy a rocking show and learned about this amazing man. I am proud to know him."

Hosier posted the following to his Facebook page: "This was an exceptional evening filled with love. I'm so fortunate to have such a bright and beautiful light coming from all directions. 'Thank you' does not do it justice. Huge hugs to all involved, with an extra squeeze to my very best friend, Corrie Martin. Your love and beautiful heart have been a treasure to me for 22-plus years -- thank you for being you!"

The evening, though, was all about the love for Darin Hosier. Everyone who was there that night was saying the same thing: "Darin, thank you for being you!"