Watching the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia from a distance, ice skating judge and part-time East Hampton resident Coco Shean is gladdened by the pure talent she sees from this year’s figure skating competitors.
No stranger to the ice, Ms. Shean, who was a competitive figure skater herself, has been judging triple jumps, spins and footwork since the early 1970s after she stopped competing herself. Since then she has rubbed elbows with world-class athletes and judged the best of the best.
Ms. Shean judged the men’s single figure skating event in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, where American Evan Lysacek won gold. Two years ago she judged the figure skating nationals in San Jose, California, and just last year, she traveled to Beijing to be a judge in the Cup of China, another international figure skating competition.
She said of all the events she’s judged, going to the Olympics was accomplishing a dream.
“It was very exciting but it amazed me how calm I was,” she said on Monday. “I sat down, saw the Olympic rings and thought, ‘Oh wow, this is really exciting. I’m ready.’”
Once the skating began she was in the zone and didn’t know the end result until she looked up.
“I was just so focused on what I was doing, marking and keeping my mind in the moment, so I feel that I judged very, very well,” she added.
Unfortunately it wasn’t an easy experience for anyone—the ice was too cold, making it difficult for skaters, she said.
“You could see the ice breaking away,” she said. “I was very nervous. The first warm-up group came out and everybody was falling and these people don’t normally fall to the degree they were falling.”
She wondered how she’d judge in such difficult conditions.
It worked out, however, and her Olympic experience still stands as one of her greatest.
“The Olympics is a very special experience—not only to be with the athletes but how everything is a celebration,” she said. “In the restaurants and on the street, everybody is into the games and excited about exchanging stories of going someplace and giving good advice.”
Viewing this year’s Olympics from afar, she said she has a few favorites—among them Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the skating duo who scored a world-record 78.89 points during Sunday’s ice dance event and won the gold medal after scoring 116.63 points in the free dance on Monday.
“I adore them,” she said. “I’m just over the top so excited. I’ve known them for a long time and have traveled with them. They’re just delightful and I couldn’t be happier for them.”
She said the quality of skating is outstanding across the board this year.
Ms. Shean herself was a figure skater from the time she was 3 or 4 years old.
Her parents, Anne Gerli and Carl Gram, met while skating and the sport was something her family always did together. She said when she got older it was all she wanted to do.
“My parents were a little resistant and wanted me to do other things,” she said. “They didn’t want me to get into this skating thing.”
She said she competed in nationals and became the eastern junior champion, runner-up and novice runner-up in her time as a competitor.
The managing director at Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Ms. Shean said she hasn’t ice-skated in about 10 years since her skates collapsed, but has fond memories of skating on Hook Pond.
She said judging fulfills her passion for ice skating, however.
“It’s a way to stay in touch with friends and the young ones that come to us with the same love, passion and commitment and being able to share that with them and watch them come up,” she said. “We do it because we love it.”