A proud parent: Having son on Olympic team a thrill for Abbott’s dad

Jeremy Abbott holds up his arms to the crowd after competing in the men’s free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Wash., Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010. Abbott finished in first place. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Danny Abbott is walking on air because his son will soon be skating on Olympic ice.

Abbott, a Grand Junction resident, is the father of Jeremy Abbott, the two-time U.S. Figure Skating champion who just earned a spot on the 2010 U.S. Olympic men’s figure skating team.

“I’m just walking up here,” Abbott said, holding a shaking hand high in the air as tears welled up in his eyes.

Abbott was watching from the stands in Spokane, Wash., as Jeremy gave the performance of his life last weekend, earning him the top spot on the team.

“There wasn’t a dry eye among us,” Abbott said of his ex-wife and daughter, who were also in attendance.

Making the Olympic team was Jeremy’s lifelong dream, Abbott said.

“Whether he wins or loses doesn’t really matter at this point,” he said.

The Abbotts lived in Aspen when Jeremy and his sister, Gwen, were young. Jeremy’s mother was an ice skater and Abbott was a skier who worked for a local ski company.

Jeremy began skating nearly as soon as he could walk. At four years old, he attended an ice show in Aspen, where he saw 1980 Olympic figure skating champion Robin Cousins. From that point on, Jeremy knew he wanted to be an Olympian.

Danny Abbott described the hours of training, hard work and financial strain on a family that has not one, but two, talented children. Gwen Abbott is a nationally ranked downhill skier who competed multiple times in the X-Games.

“It took a lot of money,” Abbott said, “It’s the last true American sport because you can’t get sponsors and it’s a lot of out-of-pocket money for parents.”

Skates, boots, outfits, equipment, motel and travel expenses add up.

“But, you also know he’s good,” and it’s what a parent does to help his child succeed, he said.

The expense of the sport keeps many talented children from skating, Abbott said. After winning at the junior level, Jeremy established two funds to help pay for training of young skaters.

Jeremy, his sister and mother moved to Colorado Springs to continue training while Abbott stayed in Aspen.

“I attended as many events as I possibly could,” said Danny Abbott, who moved from Aspen to Grand Junction because of medical reasons. He was an all-purpose clerk at City Market until his recent retirement.

Danny Abbott is preparing to make the trip of a lifetime Feb. 11 to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. He will take a train to Denver, fly to Seattle, then take another train into Vancouver.

Parents receive no special treatment, only the guarantee to be able to purchase tickets for their child’s event.

“We’re just like anybody else,” Abbott said.

The family will attend the short and long program competitions. The Abbotts plan to give Jeremy a lei made of money before he enters the “kiss-and-cry” area, where skaters and their coaches await scores, after the long program.

“I wouldn’t be disappointed if he doesn’t (win),” Abbott said, “No matter what happens, he’s always going to be an Olympian, and nobody can take that away from him.”

Abbott said his son stands a good chance to win the gold, and if he does win, “I’ll cry,” Abbott said, dabbing his already overflowing eyes.


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