Diversity as a Strength – A Figure Skating Example

As a huge figure skating fan who has attended almost every US Figure Skating Nationals since 2010, and now as a competitive adult figure skater myself (I have won gold medals at US Adult Nationals in 2022 and 2023), I love to feature figure skating topics that intersect with my business of diversity consulting and training.

I saw a wonderful example of the power of our nation’s diversity in the photo above taken of me with a poster that was in the lobby of the San Jose Sharks Arena, the site of the 2023 US Figure Skating Nationals. The poster features many of the US skating Olympians and national champions who hailed from the San Francisco Bay area. Just look at the fabulous diversity of these star athletes:
• Six women and four men
• World champion and third-place Olympic skater African-American Debi Thomas
• Two men who are gay, out and proud; Brian Boitano and Rudy Galindo
• Rudy Galindo is also Hispanic and HIV-positive
• Three of the skaters are Chinese-American (Karen Chen, Alysa Liu and Vincent Zhou) and one is Japanese-American (Kristi Yamaguchi)

And everyone is a valuable part of the diversity mix, which includes white women (Polina Edmunds and Peggy Fleming) and white men (Charlie Tickner and Brian Boitano)

I proudly wear my “Color My Ice” sweatshirt as two of the oldest competitors at adult nationals pose with Olympian and world medalist Ashley Wagner.  Photo courtesy of Barbara Foley

This is one unique aspect of the United States that makes us so strong – our diversity. We bring our unique skills and perspectives from all over the world and from many cultures. Too many people are frightened of diversity and are loudly trying to minimize or shut down discussions about it, crying about “being woke” (whatever the hell that means.)

Would American figure skating have been as strong as it has been if it were not for our unique combination of Black and White, Asian and Hispanic, male and female, gay and straight skaters? Absolutely not! Look at all the diverse champions who came out of the San Francisco Bay area!

The same goes for our business, educational and entertainment worlds. Diversity brings innovation, creativity and excitement. Diversity is something to leverage, celebrate and appreciate instead of fear and denigrate.

Some Resources:

US Figure Skating’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative.

The Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance. Check out their shop and their “Color Your Ice” sweatshirt like the one I am wearing in the above photo

Link to my third installment featuring out LGBTQ+ skaters (which includes links to the first and second installments.)