75-Year-Old Figure Skater Won't Let Stroke Stop Her

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Patricia McNamara, 75, of Orange County, Calf. started skating in her late 40s, and she's participated in every one of the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships since the Adult Nationals event started in 1995.

"I feel like the best of myself is really being expressed."

She says skating helped her recover from breast cancer, and she's hoping it helps her fully recover from a stroke seven years ago, in which she lost some muscle control on her left side.

She tells Here & Now's Robin Young that every year at the Nationals since her stroke, she's done a program emphasizing her left side so she can continue to regain her coordination.

She says she's not in it to win in, but does it for the love of skating, "because it's important to have a passion in your life."

Interview Highlights

On skating in competitions at age 75

"At my age, there’s really not anybody in my level competing at the event I’m competing in, so I compete at the level above me, which is 56 to 65 I believe. So I’m in level 66 to death. We have five people. I came in fifth, but I did have one third place ordinal, so I feel really good about that."

On why she started skating so late in life

"My mother was a skater. I used to watch her do figures on a pond when we lived in Chicago. And after she passed away, I went down and enrolled in figure skating classes because I felt that was a way of keeping her presence around me. I was close to 50 - 48 or 49 I think."

On what she's focusing on in her skating

"Right now it’s mostly just trying to do good skating skills. I can’t really do a lot of the jumps or the spins because I had a stroke a few years ago."

"It’s been challenging, I can say that, but I really feel like skating has helped in my recovery."

"I really feel like skating has helped in my recovery."

"A few years after I started was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It really helped me emotionally get through the ordeal because I was able to skate every morning before I went to radiation. It gave me a desire to want to come back and skate."

On why she loves to skate

"It just feels like it’s a combination of feminine creativity and masculine energy. So I feel like the best of myself is really being expressed."


  • Patricia McNamara, figure skater.

This segment aired on April 20, 2015.


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