One of them was Mark Cockerell, who represented the U.S. in singles at the Sarajevo Olympics in '84. "I'm having the time of my life," Cockerell says. "I've never skated better. And I met Elena."
What we have here is a fairy tale within the fairy tale. Hamill alternates as Cinderella, East and West, with the Russian skater Elena Kvitchenko. Well, when Mark and Elena met earlier this year, they fell in love, and they are now engaged to be married. If Elena is not skating with the East Tour, Mark will sometimes drive hundreds of miles on off days just to be with her. Otherwise he speaks to her by phone twice a day. "Her English is much better than my Russian," he says, "but every day I'm learning a new Russian word."
There might actually be an ice show in their story.
Tacked to the East Tour's bulletin board at the War Memorial in Syracuse is this fax from the West Tour: Then she dumped the Prince, took all his money and moved to another village to set up the old "peasant girl" scam again.
The company needs a good laugh in Syracuse. The trip from Hartford in a blizzard took two hours longer than expected. A concessions vendor had to be fired after he broke a window in the lobby of the Hotel Syracuse, perhaps because he didn't have enough hot water—nobody did. Two skaters have come up with injuries, necessitating an SOS to the West Tour. One of the tour's truckers was hit in the face with a beer bottle while defending the honor of the skaters in the hotel bar and was rushed to a hospital for stitches. And during the entire run in Syracuse, it has snowed: 36 inches in six days. "It must be a big thrill for the audience to see it snowing indoors," says Murphy.
The good news is that Hamill has been skating again. As beautifully as Delene MacKenzie performed, there is undeniable candlepower to Hamill, even before she launches into her famous Hamill camel in the second act. When she is on the ice, she is the dominant figure (and while she skated maybe eight minutes a show in the old Ice Capades, Cinderella requires her to be out there for 75 minutes). She and Andrew Naylor, who plays the Prince, have to make a few allowances for her tender ribs, but the show hardly suffers. On this Sunday afternoon, the show's last day in Syracuse, men who literally had to be dragged to the Ice Capades by their wives and kids—while the Buffalo Bills played the Kansas City Chiefs on TV—are applauding and wiping little football-shaped tears from their eyes. "I think the show's wonderful, and I've seen it six times," says Phil Galuppi, a 60-year-old usher at the War Memorial. "I remember Dorothy from the Olympics. She can still skate, huh?"
Dorothy, still shy, still demure, doesn't much like to be reminded of little Dorothy. "I cringe whenever I see tapes of myself back then," she says. "I wasn't very good, not compared to what they can do today, to what I can do today.
"I don't think enough people realize that skaters get better as they get older. Olympic skating is all about jumping, how many triples you hit cleanly. Watch professional skaters, and you'll see a more fluid, more disciplined style. Some of it comes with practice, some of it comes with maturity. I look at my friend Barbara Underhill, who's been through some pain [one of her twin daughters drowned at eight months], and I see more expression, more feeling than when she competed."
Hamill, of course, could have been talking about herself. She too has been through a lot: an adolescence lost to Olympic training, years and years lived out of suitcases, bad pub, the ulcer, a failed marriage, the death of her former husband, a long struggle for independence. She has emerged from all this stronger, wiser, happier. For once, and at last, she is in control. No one is uprooting her from her home to train in Denver or Lake Placid; no one is telling her she has to appear on a TV show with Professor Irwin Corey. Ted Koppel calls to ask her to come on Nightline to talk about Nancy and Tonya, and she can say thanks but no thanks.
There are still the weeks on the road, but there is always Indian Wells, Calif., where the Forsythes have their home. This year, the Ice Capades will be seen by three million people, twice as many as last year. It may not turn a profit for a while, but Hamill says she's in this for the long haul.