“I couldn’t have asked for a better final moment at Nationals,” said Derrick Delmore, who skated his final competitive performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on the night of Jan. 27 in Spokane, Wash. “I can count on one hand the number of performances I’ve had that were that satisfying both in how I skated and the reaction of the crowd. I felt the audience was behind me 100 percent.”
Entering the free skate in 11th place, Delmore realized his 12th appearance in the senior men’s competition would in all likelihood not result in the medal he had long dreamed about. Instead, he treated the program as if it were an exhibition, which took the pressure off and allowed him to perform for the audience. “I felt the crowd was carrying me throughout,” he said. “Between that and the adrenaline, I didn’t even feel tired when I ended.” He finished sixth overall. The gold went to Evan Lysacek, the silver to Ryan Bradley and the bronze to three-time Champion Johnny Weir.
Delmore, 28, who has never won a medal at the U.S. Championships but did claim gold at the 1998 World Junior Championships, has trained throughout his career at the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center in Alexandria, Va. His one and only coach has been Shirley Hughes. The day before the men’s free skate, at Delmore’s final full practice, he, Hughes and choreographer Jill Shipstad Thomas shared a poignant moment.
“Towards the end, I was skating around and looking at the arena and taking it all in,” Delmore noted. “I skated back to my coach and choreographer. I looked at them and said, ‘I’m just trying to soak it all up and take it in right now, since this is the last one.’ As I said it, I felt myself starting to get emotional. It was really weird, because I don’t consider myself to be an emotional person, but it all started to come out. That was the one moment at Nationals where I really felt, ‘Wow, this is it. This is the end. I need to enjoy it now because I’m not going to ever experience this again.’”
Rest assured, Delmore is not disconnecting from the sport. He will continue his coaching career at Mt. Vernon, where he has 19 students — ranging from beginners to senior. He has also started coaching at a new rink in Arlington. With the Code of Points judging system now firmly in place, he may also jump over to the other side of the boards and become a technical specialist, the professional who calls the jumps, spins and footwork that the judges then assess.
“I was barely even done competing and I already had judges talking to me saying, ‘Are you going to join us now?’” he said. “I’m definitely getting some pressure to do that. Several of my friends, who are former national and international competitors — like Justin Dillon and Brittney McConn Bottoms — are really involved in that capacity. It’s something I would like to do, considering I understand the sport fairly well.”
Delmore currently sits on several U.S. Figure Skating committees, which he will continue to do.
Upon ending their competitive careers, many figure skaters talk about going to college, but Delmore managed to do that while competing, having graduated from Stanford University in 2000 with a double major in psychology and communications. He said graduate studies in psychology are a definite possibility.
Delmore, who hopes to continue performing in shows, is proud to have ended his competitive career in such a vibrant setting. Spokane set a new attendance record for the U.S. Championships and all the skaters commented on the enthusiasm of the spectators. There were some outstanding skates in the men’s event.
“I was inspired by Evan’s performance and some of the young skaters were really incredible,” he said. “The future of U.S. men’s skating looks very bright.”