Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By Alina Adams

With news breaking of Rebecca Herbst's ouster from General Hospital (seriously? Why? I don't get it. Sure, Liz has three - adorable - kids by three different men, none of whom she was married to at the time. But, by soap standards, that just makes her a typical heroine!), it reminded me of an interview I did with her back in 1998. Not about soaps, but that other interest of mine - and hers - figure skating.

From International Figure Skating Magazine:

"General Hospital" actress Rebecca Herbst's first public performance wasn't in front of a camera, but on the ice.

Herbst, who plays Elizabeth Webber on the daytime soap, began skating at age three, and started taking lessons a year later. She competed at the 1989 Southwest Pacific Championships as a Juvenile, and at the 1990 Southwest Pacifics as an Intermediate. Other girls in her group included the 1992 U.S. Junior Champion Caroline Song, and Taylor Neff (star of Kraft's "Cheese & Macaroni" commercials), as well as eleven year old Karen and nine year old Michelle Kwan.

Herbst trained side-by-side with both Kwans at the Pickwick Arena in Los Angeles, and, in the summer, would go to Blue Jay, CA, for training with the Kwans' coach, Frank Carroll, and then-Head Coach Robin Cousins. Said Herbst, "I remember being at the skating camp and trying my triples. Falling, of course. (I) never landed them." Watching this year's Olympics, Herbst added, was "amazing. I just couldn't believe I'm watching Michelle Kwan, the girl I used to skate every morning with."

Unlike her more ambitious competitors, Herbst only practiced skating two hours a day, since, at age six, she added auditioning for television commercials to her schedule.

By age fifteen, however, the combination of skating, acting, and high-school proved too much. Concluding that what she loved about skating was the performing, not the competing, Herbst decided to give up skating for acting, eventually landing roles on the TV series' "Brotherly Love," and "Space Cases." Herbst conceded that acting is a very competitive endeavor also, but, said, "I find it extremely different because in acting, when you go for an audition, you're only challenged by yourself. You do the best you can do. You're not being put up against anybody else. With skating, you're competing your skills against other people. You each had to do X amount of jumps, and you each had to do them perfectly."

In 1997, nineteen year old Herbst became a regular on "General Hospital," validating her belief that the smartest thing she ever did was "choosing acting over skating." But, she still finds time to, once in a while, lace up her Harlick skates and take the ice.

Herbst says, "My very best friend in the world used to (skate) with me. It was so much fun for the two of us to do it together. I always had a good time. But, when I look back on it now, it was just (about) friendship more than anything."

That same year, I was talking to 1980 Olympic champion Cousins, and mentioned Rebecca's name.

"Becky Herbst!" he remembered. "Whatever happened to her?"

I told him about GH, and offered that I thought she might get a Daytime Emmy nomination soon, uttering a phrase that only makes sense for soap aficionados. "She had a great year! She was raped!"

He looked at me funny.


Alina Adams is the author of the Figure Skating Mystery series of books, including the latest, Skate Crime: Multimedia, featuring championship skating videos included right in the e-book as part of the story. Check it out, below!

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