Nov 26, 2009

Still skating, thanks for asking

"Life on the Edge" writes about fellow travelers today, skaters that they encountered on their journey through competitive figure skating. It's a lovely, warm post, and I can relate, but from the other side.

So here's the perspective from the "where are they nows?"

My daughter had just one competitive season, as an ice dancer, during which she earned a spot at Junior Nationals. The competitive career fizzled, for overwhelming reasons-- personalities, time, cost, commitment, conflicting goals (all exponentially more complex when you're dealing with a team). But the love of skating continued and matured.

So what happens to the "also rans?" We don't run anywhere. We are still here, testing and teaching and passing our love of skating on at community programs. We are filling with wonder the eyes of tiny princesses at professional ice shows. Hundreds of us are skating anonymously on marvelous synchronized skating teams. Every now and then one of my rink's lost ones shows up, with friends in tow. A common refrain I hear from the friends in these situations is "Wow! You said you could skate, but I didn't know that meant you could skate!" We sit in front of the tv watching the latest competitive season, and remember when that girl was with this other boy, and now look at that, she's skating with that kid on your Facebook, at Cup of China. It's a wonderful feeling of connection and continuity.

It's hard to give up a competitive career, for everyone. Hard for the skater, who needs to find a new reason for staying in the sport, and who might feel like she's disappointing everyone. Hard for the parents, who want the world to know that their offspring is the most wonderful ever, and who have to sublimate their own desires to the maturing child's goals. In a team, hard for the other family, who have to start over with someone new. Hard for the coach, who has invested time and emotion in an outcome that isn't going to come out.

But climbing through to the other side also has its rewards, in renewed commitment to new goals, in personal growth and in sweet memories.

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