I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. I now think life has no set endings or beginnings, and I think maybe we all exist on a predetermined loop.
As a teenager, when other girls were out cheerleading or playing tennis, I was at an ice rink. So many formative years were spent on the ice, that I can’t separate my memories of growing up from my memories of figure skating – the wins, the losses, the friendships, the drama…all of it.
I quit skating when “real life” took over and I felt like there was really no place for me in that world. I had no idea that a competitive Adult Figure Skating program was established in the mid-1990’s. I assumed that part of my life was over (although I continued to dream about landing axels in my sleep on a regular basis).
In October of 2013 an attractive blonde lady walked into my booth at an arts and crafts fair. She thought she had lost her wallet. I told her I had almost lost mine the week before, at a Mexican restaurant, “Viva Cantina”.
“Oh that’s right across the street from where I work,” she said.
“Where do you work?” (I knew there was an ice rink across the street.)
“I work at Pickwick Ice Arena. I’m a figure skating coach.”
After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I told her my story. She asked me why I quit skating. I told her I was too old. She laughed.
She told me her story - that she was in the Ice Follies, that she had taken a 20-year break from skating to have a family, that she returned to the sport in her 40’s, going on to compete nationally and internationally.
By the end of our conversation, I had made a date with her, at Pickwick, to see if I still had it in me.
It turns out I did. She now coaches me 3-4 times a week.
To say this is the biggest challenge of my life is an understatement. Figure Skating in your (late) 40’s after a 20-year absence from the sport is like pushing a rock up a steep hill. I don’t think I ever worked this physically hard, including my teenage years.
4-5 days a week, I arise at the crack of dawn, make my oatmeal, take a shower, find my workout clothes and head to the rink. I then go to my full-time job for 8-9 hours, and few are the nights when I don’t have some kind of theatre rehearsal.
I am surrounded by accomplished skaters of different levels, most quite younger than I. Most are wonderful people; a few are not so nice. It takes a while to stretch now. It also takes much longer to “warm up” than it used to. When I jump, it is a monumental effort mainly due to the fact that my knees are not what they used to be. Spinning still makes me a bit dizzy. I simple spiral is not so easy anymore – it’s a bit harder to hoist my leg up and hold it in place. My speed is 60% of what it used to be. (I can confirm this with iPad video playbacks.)
I have landed on my tailbone twice, my knee more times than I care to count, and my feet are now under the care of a podiatrist. But I have goals. My main goal is to be a better, more well-rounded and musical skater than I was 20 years ago. I still have form, I have more musicality than I did in my 20’s, and I have the desire. I want to pass all the tests in the adult skating program. I want to pass every single one of them. I’m up for the challenge.
And yes, I continually ask myself, “Why am I doing this? What am I trying to prove?” I’m not sure. But I keep going back, and I know I’m never going to walk away from this sport again. And if I’m being completely honest with myself, a part of it has to do with a very old promise to myself to make something right…