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Skater spins her way into the record books

The Swiss skater completed 115 revolutions to grab the world record

(Keystone Archive)

Swiss figure-skating champion Lucinda Ruh has broken the world record for the most continuous upright spins on one foot.

As a crowd of about 100 fans at the Chelsea Piers Skyrink in New York looked on, a blurred Ruh clocked 115 complete revolutions on the ice without stopping.

The 23-year-old's record-breaking spins, which were counted by slowing down a video of her attempt, smashed the previous record of 60 spins. That was set by Britain's Neil Wilson in 1997.

It took Zurich-born Ruh, who began skating when she was three years old, two years to prepare for the feat.

The secret to great spinning, says Ruh, requires a delicate mix of timing and balance on a specific part of the blade. The same principles hold true for good jumps.

In the world of figure-skating, jumps have always garnered the most glamour and attention. But Ruh says her work on spins has changed the rules in skating.

"Spinning is as difficult as jumping and spinning takes a lot of practice. It takes a lot of balance, timing and strength. I just love it and hopefully it will be respected as an art as difficult as jumps," she told swissinfo.

Dizzy

Spinning is like a meditation for Ruh, who adds that dizziness also comes with the territory.

"I've been spinning for so long that my brain just realises it as something normal... but I can feel it hours after a show," she said.

Although she is Swiss by birth, Ruh hasn't lived in Switzerland since she was four months old, when her father, an executive, was posted to Paris.

Since then, she's lived in Japan, Toronto, San Francisco, China, and now, New York, where she moved the week before September 11, 2001.

"I feel like I'm a citizen of the world. I still have the Swiss blood so you can never take that away from a person. But America is really my adopted home," she said.

Three years ago, Ruh became a highly sought-after professional skater, touring with groups such as the United States-based "Stars on Ice".

Olympics

Yet she left the competitive world of amateur skating with a taste of bitterness. She said she was heartbroken that Swiss judges did not choose her to go to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

"It wasn't how I performed that year at the nationals [championships]. It was just on who I was, who my coach was and where I was living," she said.

"I think skating is such a national sport that it is a pity that I didn't have the feeling of my country backing me up."

Yet Ruh says she doesn't bear a grudge against Switzerland and that she's looking ahead to more world tours, teaching skating and spinning, and even acting in television and films.

"I have nothing against Switzerland; I love it," she said. "I am who I am because of the experiences I've had to go through and I've always felt a little bit of the outsider."

"It's made me a stronger person. Maybe that's why I can spin or show emotions on the ice... and hopefully, as an aspiring actress I can show those emotions too in movies and films."

swissinfo, Carla Drysdale in New York

Key facts

Lucinda Ruh was born in Zurich in 1979 and has lived in Japan, France, China and Canada. She now lives in New York.
She speaks fluent German, French, Japanese and English.
Ruh received a scholarship to the Royal Ballet of London at the age of seven, but she declined the offer to continue skating.
She is a two-times winner of the Swiss national championships.

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