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The Carruthers: family bond strengthens pairs skaters

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When Peter Carruthers was small, a friend got angry with him as they were playing and began teasing him about being adopted. "Your parents bought you!" he said.

"YEs," Peter replied loftily. "They picked me out. I was the bestm baby."

Charles Carruthers chuckles as he recalls the incident. We are sitting in a deserted airport awaiting the arrival of his daughter, Kitty Carruthers, also adopted. He speaks of them with the special pride of a father who has seen his children accomplish much.

In 1980, Peter and Kitty -- then the secong- ranked pairs figure skaters in the United States -- found themselves in the Olympic limelight after an accident sidelined Tai Babalonia and Randy Gardner. Even non- aficionados couldn't help feeling proud as they watched the young, enthusiastic brother and sister skate their hearts out in a performance that earned them fifth place.

Now, at ages 21 and 19, Peter and Kitty are the US senior pairs champions and are preparing for the world championships. But if they had not lived on a heavily traveled road, and if Mr. Carruthers hadn't liked music, Peter and Kitty might never have begun skating.

"We lived on a hill," he says. "We were very much afraid that they would go sliding and slide out into the street sometime. So I got the bright idea when they were roughly 5 1/2 and 7 1/2 years old of leveling off some of the backyard and making a little skating rink. That would be something they could do for winter recreation, and we could watch them."

As the only children in the neighborhood with a skating rink, the two became social big wheels. Everyone, came over, so Peter and Kitty got in quite a bit of skating time, particularly on weekends.

"They'd just get into the house and get their skates off when another kid would arrive, and they'd have to go out and skate with him or her. So they would skate from early in the morning until 10 or 11 at night."

Music, too, was an important influence.


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