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Authors: Carolyn Keene

Cutting Edge

BOOK: Cutting Edge
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Chapter

One

W
ASN'T IT SWEET
of Kevin to invite us to the ice skating championships?” George Fayne said with a sigh.

Nancy Drew was struck once again by the dreamy look in George's brown eyes. Ever since George had met sports announcer Kevin Davis, that soft expression was becoming permanent.

No wonder, Nancy thought. George and Kevin had a lot in common. They were both crazy about sports. George was a serious tennis player, bicyclist, and marathoner. As for Kevin, he'd once been a silver medal decathlon winner at the Olympics.

The two had met when George was in Chicago
to run the Heartland Marathon, which Kevin was covering. The marathon had turned into a race with danger in a case Nancy called
Running Scared,
but one good thing had come of it—George and Kevin had started dating.

“It
was
nice of him,” Nancy agreed, pulling her blue Mustang into the parking lot of the Montgomery Sports Arena, which was located on the outskirts of Chicago. She took a ticket from the attendant and pulled into the first free parking space. “I love ice-skating. Great skaters make it seem so easy,” she said to George.

“Which it definitely is
not,
” George insisted. “Every time I try figure skating, I feel like a total klutz.”

“Come on, George,” Nancy said as she turned off the engine. “You're such a good speed skater—I'm sure if you'd practiced—”

“And practiced and practiced,” George said, laughing. “You can't believe how dedicated figure skaters are, Nan. They spend so much time on the ice that they hardly have personal lives.”

Nancy stepped out into the crisp autumn air, shook out her reddish blond hair, and slipped on an angora beret that matched her blue eyes perfectly. Kevin had warned her and George that the rink would be chilly, especially the day before the crowds arrived.

“Look, the Worldwide Sports truck!” George said with a bright smile. She pointed across the lot to a silver van with a logo of a globe. A young man with broad shoulders and light brown hair
was just stepping out of the side of the truck. He was wearing black jeans and a heavy heather gray turtleneck.

“There's Kevin,” George said excitedly. Running a hand through her short, dark brown hair, she glanced at her reflection in the car window. “Does my hair look okay?” she asked. She tugged on her olive green cable-knit sweater. “What about this sweater? Does it make me look fat?”

Nancy laughed at her friend. “You look great, George,” she assured her. “Let's go say hi.”

The two friends hurried across the parking lot to the Worldwide truck.

Kevin's hazel eyes sparkled when he saw the girls. Holding out his arms, he enveloped George in a big hug, then gave her a lingering kiss.

“Hi, Nancy,” Kevin said, smiling at her after he and George pulled apart. “Have you two been inside yet?”

“We just got here,” Nancy explained.

“I came out to help Mike with some cables,” Kevin told them. “Good timing.”

The door of the van slid open again, and a slender dark-haired young man appeared, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. In his hands was a tangle of heavy orange cable. “This should do it, Kev,” he said. When he noticed Nancy and George, he broke into a grin. “Friends of yours?”

“Mike, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend, George Fayne, and her friend Nancy Drew,” Kevin said, catching the cable Mike tossed him. “Mike Campo is with our crew,” he explained to
the girls. “Come on. We'd better head back inside. We'll go around the side, where the crew is loading in.”

Walking around the neatly landscaped brick arena, Nancy realized it was even larger than it had appeared from the highway. The main section of the long, low building had a huge curved dome for a roof. At the far end of the dome, two wings branched out from the main building. “Wow,” Nancy said, letting out a whistle. “This place is enormous!”

“It's the biggest sports complex in this part of the world, that's for sure,” Kevin said with a laugh. “It's easy to get lost once you're inside, too, believe me!”

“The main rink is under the dome,” Mike explained as they headed around the arena. “The complex is built in a giant Y shape. The branch over there, on the far side, has a restaurant, training center, and administrative offices. You can't see it from here.”

“There's a whole underground level, too, where the dressing rooms are,” Kevin added.

At the loading dock a sign next to the double doors read “American Skating Federation—Staff and Crew Only.” A uniformed guard stood beside it.

“Oops,” George said when she saw the guard. “Nancy and I had better go around front.”

“No problem. You're with me, and I'm a very important guy. Or didn't you realize that?” Kevin joked, laying his arm on her shoulder. He
nodded to the guard. “These ladies are with me. I'm taking them in to get their passes now.”

The guard nodded back. “Okay, Mr. Davis.”

“Mr. Davis, huh?” George said, a twinkle in her eye. “I guess you
are
pretty important.”

Kevin replied with a grin, “And don't you forget it!”

Nancy's eyes widened when she stepped through the corridor and into the arena. Hanging from the immense domed ceiling were the flags of all fifty states. The rail around the rink bore the names and logos of the many corporate sponsors.

“Wow,” said George, taking it all in. Out on the ice were about a dozen young female skaters, most accompanied by what appeared to be their coaches. Rinkside, a scattering of observers were carefully watching.

“I'll catch you later,” Mike said with a nod before he disappeared behind the bleachers.

Nancy and George nodded back and stepped up to the railing to watch the skaters. “Wow,” Nancy repeated. The skaters were gliding confidently over the ice, but every now and then one of them would leap suddenly into the air. She would turn or twist or kick in ways that seemed impossible but obviously weren't—not for skating champions, anyway.

“I'm already impressed,” Nancy murmured appreciatively.

“There'll be some fifty skaters competing in all,” Kevin explained. “Some will skate alone—
what they call singles. There are separate competitions for women's and men's singles. Then there'll be pairs skating and ice dancing.”

“What's the difference between pairs skating and ice dancing?” Nancy wanted to know.

“In pairs skating, a man and woman do an athletic routine together,” Kevin told her. “Ice dancing is just that—dancing on ice. A couple has to demonstrate that they can do the tango, polka, rumba, and other dances on the ice.”

“The top four skaters or pairs in each category will go on to the world championships in Berlin,” George added.

“We forgot to tell Nancy about the compulsories,” Kevin reminded George. “A skater is required to cut into the ice various figures that resemble two- and three-lobed eights. It's the most old-fashioned way to judge a figure skater. I hear the federation is eliminating them, but these competitors will still have to do them.”

“Visitors! Press people! Coaches! May I have your attention, please?” A voice came over the intercom. “Please gather at the south side of the rink for orientation.”

Two well-dressed women were in the stands at the south end. They seemed to be organizing a large stack of white folders.

“That means us,” said Kevin. “They're probably going to hand out passes now. I've already asked my producer if you two could have passes, and he agreed to it.”

“Fantastic!” George said brightly.

“Thanks a lot, Kevin,” Nancy added. “This is really great of you.”

“Hey,” Kevin said with a grin, “what are friends for?”

The three of them walked along the rubber matting that covered the floor near the railing to where the other onlookers were gathering.

When most of the visitors had assembled, a tall, striking blond woman of about thirty-five raised her hands, signaling everyone to settle down.

“That's Kathy Soren,” George whispered in Nancy's ear. “She was a gold medalist twenty years ago.”

“Hi, everyone, and welcome,” the former champion said with a smile. “My name is Kathy Soren, and I'm with the American Skating Federation. I'd like to take a moment to go over some ASF ground rules with you before the general public arrives.

“Security is very important to everyone at an event as large as this one,” Ms. Soren said. “That's why the ASF has allotted just two passes per skater for people he or she most wants or needs on the scene. We've tried to limit press passes, too. Anyone without a pass will be admitted into the arena only when the general public is allowed. So please, respect the privilege you are being given by making sure your pass is in plain view at all times. We don't want people without passes wandering around the complex.”

“I've heard they're very security conscious this
year because of the new scoreboard,” Kevin whispered.

“What new scoreboard?” Nancy asked. Before Kevin could reply, Ms. Soren continued speaking.

“Next,” Ms. Soren said, “our skaters will be under tremendous pressure during the next few days, and it's imperative that you remember that. I'm especially talking to the press here. Some skaters love publicity; others hate it. So if a skater needs privacy, please respect that.” Kathy Soren gave the group a stern look, then broke into a warm smile. “Okay, I've said my piece. Now I'm going to turn you over to my assistant, Myra Becker. She'll hand out your passes and answer any questions you may have. Enjoy the competition!”

With a quick wave, the gold-medal winner stepped down from the bleachers. She headed for a slightly elevated platform facing the middle of the rink, on which sat a long table and a single row of chairs. From the way it was positioned over the ice, Nancy assumed that was where the judges would sit.

“What exactly is the judging based on?” a man asked from the back of the group. He had a beard, and Nancy thought she detected a faint German accent.

Kathy Soren's assistant pushed her oversized glasses back onto the bridge of her nose and answered. “Basically, every category, except for the compulsories, is judged for both skill and
artistic expression. Compulsories are marked only for skill. Six is the highest score, zero the lowest. When the scores come in, the ASF committee discards the single highest and lowest scores and then averages the rest. The fine points of scoring are all outlined in the information pack I'll be handing out.”

“Can we talk to the judges if we have a question?” a woman with brassy blond hair and heavy makeup asked. From the way she poised her pencil to note down the response, Nancy guessed she was a reporter.

“That's a good question,” the ASF representative said
with a laugh. “And the answer is no! Referees are the
only
people permitted to speak to the judges. Everyone else, including skaters, coaches, and the press, is strictly forbidden to have any direct contact with them.”

There were no more questions, so Myra began handing out the program packets and passes. Each thick white envelope was marked separately. “Here are the Worldwide passes,” she said, handing about a dozen envelopes to Kevin.

“Thanks,” he said. He fished out envelopes with George's and Nancy's names on them and handed them to the girls. “Here you go,” he said.

Opening her envelope, Nancy found a clear plastic card holder with her name on a piece of paper inside. On the back of the holder was a large pin.

George was already pinning her pass to her sweater. “Now you look official,” Kevin said with a laugh. “Well, I'd better start earning my pay. See you later.” With a wave to Nancy and a quick kiss on the cheek for George, he was off.

“Let's watch the skaters from over there,” George said, pointing to a spot by the railing.

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