- Aug 28, 2015
As Debi Thomas visited a park near her home, she frolicked in the snow and called out to her fiance, Jamie Looney, who was nearby: "Look, it's from the movie!" She was imitating a scene in “The Shawshank Redemption” in which a prisoner escapes and stretches his arms outward in the rain. "I'm free, don't you get it?," she said.
RICHLANDS, Va. — Debi Thomas, the best African American figure skater in the history of the sport, couldn’t find her figure skates. She looked around the darkened trailer, perched along a river in a town so broke even the bars have closed, and sighed. The mobile home where she lives with her fiance and his two young boys was cluttered with dishes, stacks of documents, a Christmas tree still standing weeks past the holiday.
“They’re around here somewhere,” she murmured three times. “I know I have a pair,” she continued, before trailing off. “Because — what did I skate in? — something. They’re really tight, though, because your feet grow after you don’t wear them for a long time.” Her medals — from the World Figure Skating Championships, from the Olympics — were equally elusive: “They’re in some bag somewhere.”