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     When Nicole won the Olympic Festival and the Vienna Cup back in 1991, she was first recognized as a powerful skater that had obvious potential to be a national and possibly world and Olympic champion. But Nicole's free-spirited attitude and everlasting search for the perfect coach proved in the past burdensome and would most likely impede her success in the future. One coach who Nicole seemed to particularly like was Carlo Fassi. She trained with him back in 1990, but, for a change, a coach left her. He and his wife, Christa, felt an urge to back to their homeland in Italy and coach there. Nicole decided to stay home and find another coach. Unfortunately, her life began to go on a downward spiral after 1991. In 1992 she was rushed into the operating room for an emergency appendectomy and nearly died when her lungs collapsed. At the 1993 world junior championships Bobek competed with blood oozing out of a gash in her right thigh after cutting herself with her skate blade on a jump landing. In 1994 she arrived at a competition in Philadelphia sporting bite marks on her neck after being attacked by a friends Labrador retriever. And Nicole wasn't doing much to ameliorate the situation. She was notorious for taking a quick smoke outside of the rink sometimes, and she was known for fleeing a coach when the training got tough. In fact, from 1990 to 1994, Nicole had a total of five different coaches. Coach Kathy Casey in Colorado once said of Nicole, "She doesn't know what work is." Nicole was also having problems with her mother, Jana, and her mother's friend, Joyce. In fact, Nicole once ran away from home to live with a friend. Many of Nicole's associates thought that Nicole was a victim of emotional abuse. Keny Hyde claimed claims Joyce browbeat Nicole, calling her "idiot, stupid, fat constantly." However, a heart as big as Nicole's cannot let go. Nicole eventually went back to Jana. "I would just like to say this," says Nicole. "My mother has never hit me." "I get a lot of criticism. I hear that either I'm neglecting or overpowering. But every child is an individual, and I go by my instincts and try to do my best as a parent," Jana says. Perhaps, people were just mistaking love and over protection for abuse. Despite all her problems, Nicole managed to land herself on the podium (third place) at Nationals in 1994, year of the Winter Olympics

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