Updated: January 12, 2014 at 7:07 am
BOSTON - Allison Scott was among friends, her reward for spending the past 20 years as a devoted skating mother. She stood a few dozen yards from the ice at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, accepting hugs and smiles and words of encouragement.
It was Saturday afternoon, 15 hours after her son, Jeremy Abbott, had stunned everyone but himself and his mother by skating to a staggering 99.86 score in the men's short program.
The record-shattering performance all but clinched Abbott's trip to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, but this was about more than a mere score. His bravado and grace and excellence carried him to one of those rare magical nights in sports. If you're a devoted figure skating fan, you will not soon forget watching Abbott inspiring flirtation with perfection. Abbott seeks to ensure his Olympic berth Sunday afternoon when he competes in the free skate.
This is a Colorado Springs story. Allison serves as director of communication at the Broadmoor, and Jeremy lived for a decade in the Springs, where he graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School while competing for the Broadmoor Skating Club. Jeremy now lives in Michigan, where he competes for the Detroit Skating Club, but he remains a Coloradan at heart. He misses the mountains, misses the sunshine, misses his mother.
Mom is not a casual observer. Watching her son for two decades has transformed her into a skating expert. In the early minutes of Saturday morning, Allison returned to her hotel room on the edge of Boston. She watched from the 23rd row during her son's performance and savored every second. She still needed to watch Jeremy's performance six straight times on her computer.
"I wanted to make sure that what I saw is what I saw," Allison said. "You know, this is my kid, but what I saw was a man, what I saw was a very confident man, what I saw is the artist and the athlete I've always known was in there."
Jeremy is skating into the twilight of his pursuit of an Olympic medal. This is his final performance in the U.S. Nationals, where he has reigned as champion three times. No one ever will accuse him of being restrained emotionally. He's a jubilant, let-it-all-out personality.
As he prepared for his short program, Abbott vowed to savor every moment.
"Each step," he said. "And I really did that."
From the instant Abbott began his glide on the ice, you could see he was performing with a rare combination of precision and let-it-rip joy. The crowd at TD Garden is filled with skating devotees and the shouting and clapping only increased Jeremy's nerve.
"He loves a big crowd," Allison said. "And he had a crowd. He was feeding off the energy in the building."
When he finished, Jeremy was nearly floored by the moment. He stumbled for an instant before raising his arms to thunderous applause.
He's 28, a young man by almost any standard.
Except figure skating.
Abbott is the oldest of the 19 men in this skating competition. He's become the grand old man of American skating.
"Those other guys are quite a bit younger," Allison said. "It's the difference of being able to handle this pressure and not being able to handle the pressure. He has the benefit of his experience."
In the early minutes of Saturday morning, at the same time Allison was sitting in her hotel room making sure she had really seen what she had just seen, Jeremy remained at the Garden. He was surrounded by skating friends. They hugged him. They told him his astoundingly high score should have been even higher.
Yes, even higher.
Jeremy just nodded. He was content with his astronomical score. He knew he had earned it.
And, better yet, so did his mom.