Every Skating Medal Has a Story – The Hardware is Fine, It’s the Ribbon

In 1989, I won my first singles gold medal.

Technically, the anniversary is today – December 3, 1989. That’s okay. My mom forgot too.

It’s still pretty, but why does the ribbon look melty?

I won my first gold medal with my older sister in Primary Dance at that year’s Interlake Regionals. While that was awesome, nothing can replicate the feeling of winning your first singles medal – let alone gold.

But, why does a section of the ribbon look melted? A little singed, scorched, burned.

Here’s the story behind the ribbon of my medals.

Earlier that year, January 1989, my sister and I paired up and won our first gold medal. I didn’t want to take it off. While it wasn’t a Canadian, World, or Olympic medal – it was validation. An Elizabeth Manley moment. I felt on top of the world.

When we arrived home, I placed the medal on my night table and thought of where we should display the medals. My dad thought of the perfect spot: a small door in my mother’s China cabinet. Each of us could have our own side. Perfect.

By the end of the season, my sister and I each added two precision (synchro) silver medals. Everything was peachy, until the next season.

The door of the China cabinet was glass with a wooden frame. Whenever my parents would open that door, they had to either remove the medals or open the cabinet slooowly. If that was the case, most often, a medal would fall. When I won my solo gold medal, it kept sliding off, and my dad said, “You need to move these.”

I was mortified. “Where?”

Those 150 watt iridescent light bulbs give off a lot of heat.

He took a medal upstairs and into our bedroom, and he looped the hardware over the back rim of a light bulb. At the time, the bulbs didn’t have sconces because my mom said she couldn’t find any that appealed to her. The medal didn’t slip onto the bulb, and they stayed safely on the white rim.

“Right there,” said my dad.

Our room had three bulbs. We decided to have one bulb each for our synchro medals and we’d share the other bulb for singles.

Another issue though. I had a strip of masking tape with information about the competition on the inside of the ribbon. I’d note where the competition was held, the category, my placing (in case the medal turned purple), flight, number of competitors, and so forth.

However, masking tape is a fire hazard near an incandescent light bulb. I labelled the back of the medals, trying to avoid covering the pretty “Interlake” stamp from the Interlake Winter Games trials.

When my sister moved out, logically I separated my medals by bronze-silver-gold on the bulbs. The older medals were singed, so I hung the medals in the order they were received. Much like calling Fido.

If there wasn’t a “no nails in the walls” rule for my bedroom, I would’ve displayed my skating medals the same as one of high school friends.

She’d also won gold at that same competition where I won my first singles gold, but she was one level higher. She climbed the ranks, becoming the first skater to represent our club at the novice level. Each of her medals – tons of them – were displayed around her bedroom. I mentioned this to my mom, and she said, “Tammy,” and I said, “I know, no nails.”

When I moved to Winnipeg in 1995, my medals stayed home – looped over the bulbs. Then I moved home for a little over a year. When I went back to Winnipeg, my mom suggested I take them. I agreed, and I placed them in a special box, and they travel with me.

I know mom was happy that I decided to remove the medals from those bulbs.

Because she found sconces.

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