The Skating Saga of Sidney Vicious

  • Written by Derek Johnson
It was day three of my Arizona trip. I was at my sister's house, washing out a coffee cup. My 16-year old niece Sidney came home. She had been "running an errand" and entered the kitchen smiling.
"Umm, did you talk to my mom this morning?" she asked.
20180512 105851 1Sidney Hollibaugh finished in second place at the Copper State Classic. (Photo by Derek Johnson). Her voice had too much sugar in it. I told her I was suspicious.
"I can't ever keep anything a secret!" she shouted.
Sidney Hollibaugh is a competitive ice skater. Her competition was five days away. It turned out that her coach (Tammy Jiminez) was concerned that she was overtraining. Sidney had been ordered to take the day off. NO SKATING AND NO WORKOUTS.
But nobody puts Sidney in a corner. She had just returned from a workout at the gym. She knew her mom might verify her whereabouts.  
"Don't tell my mom, okay?" she asked.
"I'm not going to lie if she asks," I said.
We got into my rental car and headed toward Top Golf driving range. Along the way we spoke of her crush on "Dr. McDreamy", aka Patrick Dempsey from Grey's Anatomy. Sidney always insists that one day they will marry. I pointed out that she's 16 and he's 52. But she said that'll be no barrier to their love.
We grabbed golf clubs and it was time to play. Now, Sidney is a graceful and beautiful skater. But her golf game needs work. She took a swing and topped the ball awkwardly. It dribbled off to the right. 
Now it was my turn. I took a mighty swing and crushed it. The ball disappeared into the deep blue Arizona sky.
"That one might reach Utah," I said quietly.
Sidney stepped up to take her next shot. But she turned to glare at me.  
Sidney and Derek May 2018Derek Johnson of the Woodinville Weekly with his niece Sidney Hollibaugh.After shooting golf balls, lunch was served. I asked how she got into skating. When she was nine she had been forced to go to a birthday party of a girl she didn't like. At the party they skated. Sidney loved it.   
"Nine years old is a late start in ice skating," she said between bites of turkey sandwich. "I know I probably can't get to nationals. But my dream is to get to sectionals."
I said that I didn't know much about skating.
"Figure skating is a very competitive sport but it's not direct competition like football," she said. "You're not hitting people – unless you're Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding – but whatever."
She said the skating world is both petty and generous. 
"Sometimes people will copy your dress or skate to your song," she said. "But those people are my competitors and they've pushed me to be the best I can be. I've met people who train with me and who push me and they have become my family. That's the best aspect of this. My coach is like a second mom."
Competition day should be fun, I said. 
"Competition day is very stressful," she said. "I'm a perfectionist, so everything has to be perfect. I need time to think by myself and I don't like anybody bugging me."
Back in the car, I was programming my iPod. "Hey Sid, you ever heard of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols?"
"Who?" she asked.
"Sid Vicious. Punk rocker. Died of an overdose."
"That’s too bad," she said. "But I love that name!"
""You want a new nickname?" I asked. "Sid Vicious?"
"Yeah!" she said.
"Sidney Vicious!" I said.
At the Copper State Classic, Sidney glided onto the ice and began her routine.  She hit on her axel but popped her double lutz. She finished in second place. But afterward she was somber.    
"It's not about doing better than the other skaters," she said. "It's about how I skated. And I could have done so much better."
She went home and played two games of chess with her brother Austin. He won easily. He challenged her again. But Sidney smiled and got up to leave the room.
"I've had my ass kicked enough today!" she said to laughs all around. 

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