Two-time Olympic figure-skating medalist Nancy Kerrigan recently created a “backstage dressing room” for her son in his basement playroom. She stocked it with hats and props, and she hung chiffon drapes as a doorway to a make-believe “stage.” Matthew, 5, loves to play there but registers one complaint: Can’t they do anything about the pole that’s always in his way?
Kerrigan scoffs at her son’s issue with the three floor-to-ceiling supports in their finished basement, but she also commiserates. She, too, has grown intolerant of the many annoying features in the home she has shared for six years with her husband and manager, Jerry Solomon. (Solomon, chief executive officer of StarGames, a sports management company, was her manager for four years before they married.)
Kerrigan, 32, and Solomon, 47, acknowledge they chose the house primarily for its proximity to several highways that lead them quickly to the airport (“We’re always leaving,” says Kerrigan.) and to family and friends. Her parents live in nearby Stoneham in the house where she grew up, and her two brothers and aunts and uncles are within a half-hour drive. They plan to renovate soon.
“We’re going to make it more of what we want,” she says.
Kerrigan is a stay-at-home mom whenever her schedule allows. She thoroughly enjoys parenting and is proud of the “Outstanding Mother Award 2001” that she received from the National Mother’s Day Foundation. The award sits prominently on a family room shelf.
No skating trophies, medals, nor memorabilia are displayed in her house, other than a gift Jerry gave her before they were even dating: a huge collage of magazine covers featuring the champion skater from the year she won the silver medal.
“You don’t try to be a good parent to win an award,” she says. “You do it to help influence somebody to make the world a better place, happier. But it’s exciting that someone says you’re doing a good job at it,” she adds, her famous smile illuminating her face.
Flanking the award are samples of her newest interest: painting on pottery. One rainy day last April, Kerrigan took Matthew to a local “Paint-a-Plate” store in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where she performs several times a year at the Ice Castle Theatre, which she co-owns. She became hooked instantly. After learning some basic techniques, she produced many plates, some with bold color strokes, others with pastel scenes. She thought her first one was good and showed it to Solomon.
“I said, `That’s not good – that’s great,’ ” he recalls.
“Athletes stick to their sport for so long, we never know what else we could do,” Kerrigan says. “I had no idea I could paint anything until I tried this.”
She now creates not only scenes of trees, flowers, still lifes, and random designs, but also artistic depictions of her skating patterns from the Olympics. She has begun to sell her work. All profits support the Nancy Kerrigan Foundation, which provides grants to organizations for the visually impaired. Nancy and Jerry set up the foundation in honor of her mother, who is blind.
Kerrigan’s pottery (and Solomon’s new book, “An Insider’s Guide to Managing Sporting Events”) will be on sale Dec. 14-23 at the Shubert Theatre, where Kerrigan stars in “Footloose on Ice,” produced by Solomon.
“Skating can be grueling on your feet, but `Footloose’ is really, really fun,” says Kerrigan, who now prefers ice performance to competition.
During the last several years, she skated in “Grease on Ice,” “Broadway on Ice,” “Champions on Ice,” and “Halloween on Ice” (in which Matthew skated briefly, too, though he says he wants to be a farmer, not a skater, when he grows up).
Although husband and wife agree that the line between their business and personal lives is a blur, they make time to just be a family.
“We have a two-hour family block of music on weekends,” says Solomon, who, with Matthew, has begun taking piano lessons on the Steinert baby grand that Kerrigan gave her husband as a wedding gift. Mom sings along. She recently began voice lessons, at the suggestion of friends, with the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. They hinted that if she could sing, she might become eligible for roles in their shows.
“To perform and not have skates on my feet . . .” she begins, excitedly, “that’d be wonderful!”