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For the week of July 4 through July 11, 2000

Lucinda Ruh takes Sun Valley for a spin

270 revolutions a minute for Sun Valley Ice Show skater

Express Staff Writer

Lucinda Ruh spins so fast, her lithe body seems to dissolve into gold and silver liquid during her Sun Valley Ice Show performances each week.

Lucinda Ruh spinning during ice show practice on Sun Valley ice. Express photo by Willy CookShe wears body suits of those colors, accentuating her ballet-trained 5-9, 118-pound frame. And when she gets going in her spins, well, you have to see Lucinda to believe her.

Her spins are calculated at 270 revolutions a minute. It’s almost past dizziness. "I love the sensation of spinning," she said. "I’m in my own world when I’m spinning—like I’m not really on earth."

She’ll come down to earth a little on July 13, when her fellow ice show skaters undoubtedly will help Swiss-born Lucinda Martha Ruh from Zurich celebrate her 21st birthday.

In the meantime, Sun Valley Ice Show audiences will get to ooh and aah and fully appreciate Lucinda Ruh all summer. She’s here to learn more about performing before audiences.

And she’s a smash hit.

Ice show coordinator Rainer Kolb said, "It’s very important for us to bring in something people don’t ordinarily see. This year it’s Lucinda. I didn’t expect her to work out as well as she has. But I’m very, very pleased with what she’s done.

"She’s so athletic, and has the most incredible balance. She does some unbelievable, unusual spins."

Although Ruh has never finished above 13th place in five world figure skating competitions from 1995-99, she made her niche in spinning and is now considered to be the finest spinner in the world.

Not only is Ruh a worthy successor to spin artist Denise Biellmann of Switzerland, the poised young daughter of Silvia and Rene Ruh has taken the Swiss national trademark of spinning to new levels.

After Ruh placed 13th at worlds in Helsinki in 1999, figure skating commentator Dick Button said, "She’s probably the most brilliant spinner I’ve seen in all the years I’ve watched figure skating. She also has a marvelous sense of style and position. She has flair. You can see that she enjoys skating."

Classically trained, and coached by some of skating’s elite, Ruh normally skates to music like Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and Chopin.

This summer she’s doing two numbers—"Blues," a new program choreographed by Alexandr Zhulin, and "Prayer Cycle," choreographed by Robin Cousins and set to music by Alanis Morrisette. She enjoys the mixture of feelings that an Asian touch offers.

That’s because Lucinda Ruh considers her true home to be Japan, where she lived from the age of four to 17.

The second daughter of the president of a Swiss chemical company, Lucinda’s family moved to Tokyo when she was four. She has lived in places as diverse as Iran, Austria, New Zealand, Paris and New York.

Lucinda was educated at the International School of Sacred Heart in Tokyo. Today, she is fluent in four languages—French, German, Japanese and English. She knows Russian and Chinese.

Trained in ballet from the age of three, she used to go to ballet classes every day and skate with older sister Michele just once a week at the Prince Ice Skating Rink in Tokyo.

However, eight-year-old Lucinda decided to forego a scholarship to the Royal Ballet of London and instead devoted the bulk of her practice time to figure skating. She said, "I liked the gliding, the movement and the competition.

"I love the artistic side, the interpretation of music—the beauty, speed and elegance of skating. What I want to do is portray the ballerina on ice."

Although she gained fame in Japan for spinning, Lucinda broadened her horizons when she moved with her mother to Toronto at the age of 17. She worked with Toller Cranston on choreography and Ellen Burka on jumping technique.

One year later she moved to San Francisco and made rapid progress with Kristi Yamaguchi’s coach Christy Ness. Injuries sidelined Ruh’s attempt to make Switzerland’s 1998 Olympic team, but 1998 turned into an enriching year.

From June through December 1998, she lived and trained at Harbin, China and worked out with a variety of competitive national-team athletes.

Now, she calls China "the best experience of her life."

She lived with 200 athletes in a compound that had an ice rink and sports hall. The training was incredible. Within five months, she was landing all five of her triple jumps. She had good chemistry with the coaches and learned a lot.

In February 1999, Lucinda trained with the famous Oliver Honer in Switzerland, which led up to her fine worlds effort at Helsinki. She then toured with the German Stars on Ice.

Lucinda, who now trains in Hackensack, N.J. at the same rink as U.S. Olympic hopeful Sarah Hughes, said, "I’ve had a lot of experiences. And I gain positive things from each."

She has never had a spinning coach, but now she has her own web page—headlined by her spinning image.

But Ruh, the 1996 Swiss national champion who used to raise green turtles in Tokyo, still has a competitive dream.

Lucinda wants to become a physician specializing in sports medicine, but she also has medal dreams. She said, "I’d like to win a medal at the worlds or the Olympics."


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