Laughter echoing around the freezing arena, wind howling alongside it. I step onto the ice, my blades gliding on the sleek, glassy surface. A skater leaps, spins, a hockey player zooms past me, a breeze in his wake. People wobble past, hand in hand, smiling and giggling. I survey the cold, open space, and I smile. The glacial beauty of it all hits me, as I stroke, in a sort of steady, forward glissade, on the sheer, freezing crystal beneath me.
I had always wanted to be a figure skater. When I was a little girl, about five or six years old, I would watch the Olympics and figure skating programs on television and I desperately wanted to be as powerful and beautiful as Michelle Kwan. Of course, as an ambitious child, I wanted to do everything. I am still the same way. But, alongside ballet, piloting a plane, and being a princess or a pirate captain, I wanted to be a figure skater.
Around the same year I became obsessed with figure skating, a Barbie movie called Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus came out. It was perfect timing for Mattel (the company behind Barbie movies), really. The 2006 Winter Olympics were coming up, and I was obsessed with this new movie involving a figure skating princess. I remember watching the movie at least three times a week – and I often pretended to be Princess Annika (Barbie’s role). Of course, I was already obsessed with Barbie and figure skating, and this new movie made me extra crazy about both. I wanted my parents to get my figure skating lessons, but my parents thought it was just a phase, and knew of no nearby ice rinks.
Years passed and I still admired figure skating, but I never really got involved with it, and my obsession and need to learn the sport faded. I still involved it in my 4th grade art project, however, when my art teacher assigned my class to paste a picture of our faces to a drawing of what we wanted to do in the future. My picture was of me doing a Y Spiral – an element in figure skating in which one lifts her leg so that her foot is over her head. I am not yet flexible enough to do that, but I will be one day.
It was not until 2016 that my love for skating was reignited. A show called Yuri!!! On Ice rose to popularity in the anime community and I was hooked on it. The story was about a young figure skater who had lost hope and motivation after a series of unfortunate events and a very brutal competitive loss, but when the world’s greatest figure skater and his idol quits skating competitively to become his coach, his passion for the sport is reignited. Having loved figure skating as a child and loving anime as much as I did, I ate that show up. It awoke something in me – a newfound love for the sport. This passion had been laying dormant within me for years and here it was again, alive and definitely robust.
I began asking my parents to take me skating. I watched all sorts of videos online and I tried to get into the habit of working out and stretching whenever I could. I watched programs and tutorials, and performances. It was like being possessed by my younger self.
At this point, I had never even stepped foot onto the ice of a rink, and I consumed videos on how to skate like a beggar at a buffet, and I tried my best to educate myself on different skating elements. An axel? I had no idea how that was any different from a loop. A sit spin? Is that not a cannonball spin? I was a kindergartener in a high school class when it came to learning about all the nit-picky and artistic things about the sport. I had some understanding of this internationally adored art thanks to figure skating media – the Olympics and Yuri!!! On Ice – but I did not know right from left when it came to really comprehending the details.
I finally convinced my dad to take me to the ice rink on December 2nd, 2016 (I will be honest, I threatened to walk the 5.2 miles to the rink around six in the evening and started the trek in order to get him to agree to take me, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do). It was definitely way harder than I expected, but I loved every minute of it. It was the most exciting thing I had experienced – or so it felt – and then it never happened again. Sort of.
I asked my father over and over again for two years to take me back to the rink. He kept telling me he would take me skating again “later” and “later” and “next week” and “this summer” and “next summer” – et. cetera, et. cetera. It was frustrating not going, because it meant I could not get better at ice skating. Not learning how to ice skate meant I would not, for certain, learn how to figure skate, which requires knowing how to escape the ice rink wall. Yet, after months of begging and nagging and disappointment, I was lucky enough to get him to agree on July 7th, 2018, and through meeting one of my friends there who had started skating (through pure serendipity), I was able to convince my parents to let me start skating. Thank…goodness.
Shortly after two trips to the rink as a public skater, I got my parents to sign me up for group lessons. I was so excited, I probably could have done an axel right then and there – except I definitely could not, and that is why I needed lessons to begin with.
I have been going as often as I can since that fateful summer day, and I do not regret it at all. Of course there are days when I feel like I am not worthy, and I think I am going to quit, but I think about how far I have come since that wobbly first encounter on the ice and I persevere. I have gone from clinging to the wall for dear life to doing waltz jumps and scratch spins, and I am still improving as the days go on. I have started learning more jumps and more spins recently, while I could barely do swizzles in July and crossovers in August. Axel, here I come.
I am really delving into the figure skating world now that I have become a participant in this artistic sport. This past Christmas I performed in the Holiday Show with my sister. This upcoming Christmas I hope to perform a duet with her again, and a solo program. And next year, I will be competing. I already have a program set for then. See? It was positively worth it. “Here’s to gold!”