U.S. Adult Championships Full of Inspiring Storiesby Troy Schwindt
|Chris Schwartz and Thom Mullins|
(4/12/07) - When Thom Mullins takes the ice at the 13th annual U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships in Bensenville, Ill., he won't be trying to land an Axel or master a spin.
His goal is simple: glide around the Edge Ice Arena and enjoy the moment in front of his many adoring friends. Mullins counts himself lucky to be doing that after suffering a mild heart attack about two weeks ago at his home rink of Yerba Buena in San Francisco.
“I had just finished a run-through and went off the ice when it happened,” said Mullins, who has competed in every U.S. Adult Championships since its inception in 1995 in Wilmington, Del. “I felt it on the opposite side, though, on the right side. They were all teasing me that my heart is on the wrong side.”
Mullins was taken to the emergency room and later that day underwent the angioplasty procedure. He spent the next three days in the hospital and two more weeks resting at home.
The heart attack came as a complete shock to Mullins, who doesn't have a history of heart problems, is a vegetarian and doesn't smoke or drink.
“You learn as an adult skater to really listen to your body, and obviously that day there was something wrong,” he said.
Still, Mullins was determined to skate at the U.S. Adult Championships and asked his doctor if that was a possibility.
“We were just happy the cardiologist said I could come to the event,” Mullins said. “Then we said, is there chance I might actually go out on the ice if I promise not to jump and spin. I just wanted to be on the ice as a participant, which would mean a lot to me. She said ‘yeah, as long as you don't do what you normally do.' So this year is sort of a happy-to-be-here year.”
“Just stepping on the ice is going to be my way of saying that I'm not going to be afraid of anything and just live life fully.”
With the exception of this year, Mullins said he has entered each U.S. Adult Championships with specific goals. “I skate every day, and nationals is a nice treat at the end of the skating year to sort of say, ‘OK, let's go and show off what I've accomplished during the year and see all of my friends,” he said.