Writer went from chaperone to assisting with NBC's figure skating broadcasts
Alina Adams’ background in ice skating began years ago as chaperone for her figure-skating younger brother, but she’s parlayed it into so much more.
That in itself has allowed her to travel the world, sit behind the scenes for several of the highest-profile figure skating events, including the Winter Olympics, and write an entire series of ice skating-themed murder mystery novels during the past 20 years.
You won’t hear Adams’ name from the podium or in broadcasts, but she’s been involved in the most iconic moments within figure skating since the '90s, and she will be a player at this year’s Sochi Olympics.
At the Sochi Olympics, Adams will be involved with figure skating as a producer, which is something she’s used to. However, it'll be a little different this time around.
Adams said she approached well-known Olympic figure skating and analyst Dick Button about live tweeting during the Sochi Olympics. When figure skating hits the air, Adams will be producing a way for people to communicate with Button during the broadcast with the hashtag #PushDicksButton.
But that’s just the latest moment in Adams’ career behind the curtains of ice skating.
Adams’ career with the sport began in the 1990s, when she was a figure skating researcher and television producer for sports media outlets, including NBC and ESPN.
She was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated with her family to California when she was 7 years old, and her background speaking Russian helped her.
The job took her everywhere.
“The thing about figure skating is that it takes place all over the world," Adams said. "I loved traveling to far-away locations like Nagano, Japan, for the 1998 Olympics, Switzerland for the World Championships. Heck, even Rhode Island and Florida for professional skating shows was fun.”
Behind the scenes, she saw every storyline imaginable unfold from the drama of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding to watching as a 15-year-old Michelle Kwan learned she had won her first World Championship in 1996 — a moment Adams recalls as one of her favorites.
Adam said moments like the Kerrigan attack didn't seem as large stories when they originally happened.
“I was in Detroit in 1994 when Nancy got hit on the knee, and while we were all aware of it, we never imagined it would blow up into the international phenomenon that it did,” Adams said. “And yes, we were all joking, ‘Maybe Tonya Harding did it.’ But, we didn’t mean it!”
The Olympics, from behind the TV cameras, isn’t as poetic as perfectly executed as a figure skating routine. Adams recalls those days as something like a “madhouse.”
“Press from seemingly every nation in the world are all jockeying for space,” she said. “Often, they are shuffled off into a media zone, where you can pounce on athletes as they come through.”
The past decade and more, though, the New York City resident hasn’t toured around the world like she used to, declining that lifestyle to focus on family.
“When my oldest son was 18 months old, he expressed his displeasure at my jet-setting lifestyle by refusing to acknowledge my presence on the days that I was home. That’s when I understood it was time to move on,” she said.
That’s when she found a new avenue in writing.
In 2001, Adams penned a biography on figure skater Sarah Hughes. The book, she said, became rather successful during the 2002 Olympics, where Hughes earned a gold medal.
Adams said the success of the Hughes biography propelled her into being able to write an entire mystery series based on figure skating, although even that came with its struggles.
Luckily for her, an idea popped up during that 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
“I pitched (my editor) a couple of story ideas, even did full outlines for two of them, but nothing seemed exactly right,” Adams said. “Then we got the 2002 Olympic judging scandal with the pairs, and I sent my editor an email with one sentence: ‘What if the judge who is accused of cheating ends up murdered?’ Sold!”
Since then, she’s been able to write four more figure skating mystery novels. Adams said her stories are loosely based on her experiences.
“Many of the little details in the figure skating mystery series are definitely based on real-life events, characters and situations.”
Adams has been active away from figure skating too. She wrote a New York Times best-seller in 2006 and has been as active within soap operas as in figure skating.
At th Sochi Olympics, "I am doing something that no one has ever done before," she said, of the production of her Twitter interaction program with Dick Button.
It just wouldn't be figure skating without Adams.
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