I Was a Skater Girl
“I’d like to cause a little riot in skating.” ~ Sasha Cohen
Okay, I actually wasn’t the kind of skater that Avril was singing about, but I still can’t help think of that song every time skating comes up.
As a very teeny tiny youngling, I use to skate on the pond near my house, on two bladed skates which years later my coach told me she hated because they “impede training.” I would be bundled up in a snow suit with a scarf around my mouth. You were lucky if you could see my eyes and I was lucky if I could see where I was going.
I loved those days. There was such a freedom being outside, not just being connected to the ice but being connected to nature. Several years later when the local ice rink was finally built, I knew I had found my sport. My mom didn’t waste anytime enrolling me in lessons and with in the first moments of being taught USFSA Basic One marches I was in love. I had found my “people.”
Over the years, I have had people tell me how amazed they are by skating. The tricks and twirls look effortless on ice, like magic. It might be a bit of magic but it is definitely luck, and training and a heck of a lot of prayer. An axel or quad jump is the skating equivalent of football’s Hail Mary.
While my coaches would be happy that I and every skater out there, make it look magical, their is nothing effortless about the black and blues, and countless injuries including a career ending foot fracture.
Ladies and gentleman skating is football glitzed and glammed up. Seriously. That ice is the Chuck Cecil of tackles.
Yet despite the brutal relationship, I loved it. Oh their were times I loathed it. But I loved it more then I hated. They do say love and hate are different sides of the same coin and it is definitely true in the sport of skating.
Their was nothing like lacing up my skates. Jumping up and down to make sure they were tied properly before I made my way down to the rink, where I would discard my skate guards, before the real fun began. That first step onto the ice always seemed the most nerve wracking to me. You went from standing on solid ground, albeit still on a very thin blades, to transferring yourself to ice that is not your friend (see above football references), yet you have to trust it. You have to let go of the board. You have to let yourself glide.
I use to joke that the first step would determine a practice. Half the time I always expected to just fall down. It is ice after all. But ice skating is so much more then ice. It is at its core about trust.
You have to trust yourself. Trust that you can land the jumps, that your body will move through the air, parcelling the ice. That you are strong enough to do it. You have to have confidence. It is so easy to get into the head space of “I can’t do this. I am not strong enough or talented enough.”
I know many people would ask what about thinness? But while the sport does have aesthetic superficialness about it. At the end of the day you have to be strong. It takes true strength to throw yourself into the air, complete the required rotations and land on knife like blades trusting that your skates will support you. It takes muscle and physics.
The USFSA released new marketing recently promoting figure skating with the #Getup Campaign. The motto, “If you can handle ice, you can handle anything, so get up” is so incredibly true.
Their were days as a skater, when I didn’t want to skate. Gasps! It sounds so sacrilegious. But it is true. It was the days when the constant discipline and the frustration where I just couldn’t understand the mechanics of a jump, those were the days I needed it the most. Where I had to push through, and find as cliche as it sounds, my tenacity and keep going.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it prepared me for life.
Sports aren’t just fun games people play. Skating is probably one of the most undervalued sports out there.
While skating movies have a tendency to bug the ever living expletive out of me. Especially when they just show the skaters upper torso. Umm skating is about that pesky nemesis of a topic directors…FYI, not whether the actress is smiling or not. While I have to preface this with, the movie is still grossly inaccurate I have to applaud Ice Princess for showcasing the fact that physics and math do play a large part in skating.
Why the hell did I become a skater? I hate math!
Kidding aside, it is true. Everything from the mechanics of spins to the technical aspects of the boots has a purpose in skating to help make the skater perform optimally. While as skaters we laugh about the “boot problem” excuse. It is very real. If a blade has been sharpened wrong, it will make or break you as a skater. There are so many tiny pieces that are meld together to form the finish product. Much like life.
It isn’t just a metaphor, it IS life. You fall whether it is from a caught edge on your blade, or because you flunked a test or got a rejection, you pick yourself up and try again. And again. And again.
And when you succeed, it makes you realize it was all worth it. Every bump and bruise. All that hard work. The blood sweat and tears. It was all worth it.
I wasn’t just a skater girl. I still am. While I may not be attempting any triples, and my body cringes at the thought of an axel, there is nothing like lacing up my skates and gliding out onto the ice.
That first step still gives me jitters. But with it, is also the nostalgia, the excitement, the love and very definitely respect for the ice. It is that sensation of coming home again. Of rediscovering myself with every glide. Oh yes I am very definitely still a skater girl.