Cold Reality Skater Is First Female Athlete to Announce She Has the Virus That Causes Aids

By Karen Crouse Orange County Register | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 23, 1995 | Go to article overview

Cold Reality Skater Is First Female Athlete to Announce She Has the Virus That Causes Aids


Karen Crouse Orange County Register, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


NICOLE LESH had a secret that was killing her. She could have taken it with her to the grave, but how many lives would that have saved?

So last month, Lesh, a veteran of such figure skating productions as "Snoopy's Nutcracker on Ice" at Knott's Berry Farm, became the first female professional athlete to reveal publicly that she has the virus that leads to AIDS.

Lesh's platform was the sheet of ice inside the Skating Club of Worcester (Mass.), site of the 11th U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championship. In four powerful minutes, Lesh peeled away her emotions like layers of an onion until it made onlookers cry.

"My whole objective was to show people what it's like to live with HIV," said Lesh, 25, who skated her program with a red silk ribbon flowing from her waist, a conspicuous symbol of her tainted blood.

"When I was finished I felt very vulnerable, like a marked person," Lesh said, adding, "I also kind of felt like I had lost 20 pounds."

Lesh could have spent the holiday season kicking up ice shavings in the chorus of the "Nutcracker" production at Knott's Berry Farm, in Buena Park, Calif. But she turned down the job to be with her husband, Corey.

"I've been on the tour skating for the last four years at Christmas," Lesh said. "I really wanted to spend this time with Corey."

That's why on a recent Saturday the Leshes were holed up in their San Francisco apartment, putting on happy faces.

"I'm trying not to look at it like I'm going to die this awful death," Nicole said. "When I think like that, it strikes a nerve. I start thinking about what it might be like, and I get really scared."

Lesh, of course, is not the first professional athlete to admit testing positive to the human immunodeficiency virus. The Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson seared the sports landscape with his announcement in November 1991. But it didn't appreciably change things.

Figure skating has lost four world-class competitors to AIDS since Johnson's announcement. Tracy Wilson, who lost her ice dancing partner, Rob McCall, to AIDS four years after they won the bronze medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, says that everyone in the sport knows someone who has been touched by the disease.

And yet a group of skaters moved by Lesh's sixth-place performance in Worcester couldn't persuade skating officials to let Lesh repeat her program as an exhibition during the finals, for which only the top three in her bracket qualified.

In rejecting the request, officials purportedly explained that the competition was already recognizing one charity - cystic fibrosis.

Lesh was saddened by the rebuff but not surprised.

"Skating has this pristine, snow-white image," Lesh said. "I kind of feel there are some people in the skating world who want to keep the fact I have HIV hush-hush."

At first, Lesh wasn't sure she wanted to broadcast her past. She had unprotected sex as a teen-ager and thinks she probably contracted HIV from a boyfriend with whom she lived briefly in England. Lesh found out later that he dealt heroin, and might have used the drug. That could have placed him in a high-risk group for HIV.

She feared society would judge her more harshly than if she had come by the virus blamelessly.

"It makes me angry that if you have cancer you don't have to be ashamed of it because that's not your fault," Lesh said. "But if you have HIV, it can be like you're a marked person. That's not helping anything."

It may be too late to help herself, but what about others? After discussing it at length with her husband, Lesh decided she'd rather have people know her history than repeat it.

"For me, there was just no other alternative," Lesh said. "Why hide in a closet? It's not doing anybody any good. I've had to learn some lessons in an extremely difficult way. But if my life is taken, maybe there's someone who can identify with my story and whose life can be saved. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Cold Reality Skater Is First Female Athlete to Announce She Has the Virus That Causes Aids
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.