10 Things All Figure Skaters Can Relate To…For Sure!
Stepping onto the cold, slippery ice, shivering from the breeze of a hockey player rushing past, and sliding, stroking on the sheer, crystal canvas below. The ice beneath blades smoothly glides, the smell of crisp winter air all around, laughter echoing and the scratching, skidding of snowplow stops and scratch spins. Skater leaps, salchow, checks, leg extended and back arched. Wind moans, but it’s only a whisper underneath the shaving of ice and the voices chorusing. Skater’s heart skips a beat, races, thumps hard from waltz jumps and spins. Alarm blares, time’s up, next session’s coming soon.
Figure skating is a world-renowned sport, praised for the athletic ability and artistic performing of those who participate in its cold, hard world. It takes years to master the skills required to be a great figure skater, but each failure and triumph leaves an indelible mark in the heart of the icy dreamer. There are experiences all skaters can relate to, and as a novice in the sport I’ve come to realize that I am not alone in my defeats and successes, my fears and dreams. Let’s delve into the beautiful (and sometimes painful) world of figure skating through a beginner’s eyes, shall we?
- The first time you step onto the ice. I used to want to skate when I was really little, but it wasn’t until I watched a certain show (anime fans out there know what I’m talking ‘bout) that my dream was once again reignited. I finally went ice skating, and the excitement and fear all built up in me, until (clinging to the wall) I stepped onto the ice and felt the coolness of the shining surface under the blades of my rental skates. Aha, yes, I was wearing rental skates. The feeling was and is unforgettable.
2. The first time you actually learn how to skate. Unfortunately, it was a whole year and six months after that first encounter with ice skating until I successfully convinced my parents to take me again. This time I was determined to force myself off the wall (as one of my coaches says: “The wall makes you fall!”), and I did it! Imagine my excitement wobbling towards the center. It was definitely a step up from clinging for dear life to the sides of the rink.
3. Taking your first classes. I was somehow able to persuade my parents into signing my sister and me up for group lessons with the Learn To Skate USA program at my home-rink. Trust me, I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t learning how to land quad axels yet (R.I.P., my Olympic dreams), but dips were scarier than I thought. Thank goodness I got past that.
4. Learning your first move. I was so proud of myself after learning those dips, though. They’re still not quad axels, but it was good enough for me.
5. Frustration. FRUSTRATION! I wanted to do crossovers so bad, but I just couldn’t get my foot to go over, nor could I get my knee to bend! It was such a struggle for me that I could feel the shackles of defeat trying to chain me up to a wall of failure. It was even worse on my left side. I couldn’t even put my foot down! Talk about not putting your foot down.
- Success. SWEET SUCCESS! When you finally accomplish something you’ve been struggling with for any period of time (this is a universal feeling), waves of relief, and eustress, and ecstasy, and joy, and every good feeling in the entire world wash over you. It’s. The. Best. Thing. Ever. I finally put my foot down [out] and over, baby.
7. Getting utterly obsessed. Day and night. Night and day. 24/7—even in your dreams! Figure skating follows you, and you follow figure skating online: Through watching videos, reading articles, and stalking your favorite skaters. It’s a lifestyle.
8. Learning your first routine. You wait for ages for your coach to finally choreograph a program for you, and you’re on the tip of your toepick waiting to finally finish it and finally run through the whole thing for the first time. The wait is worth it, though, and you’re willing to do double run-throughs for the love of skating and the sake of your program.
9. Your first performance: Be it a show, a competition, or a test, you never forget the nerves and rush of performing in front of an audience and taking your first ever bow. It tastes sweet and sour, and you love it.
10. Doing it all over again. As soon as you learn a move, you move on to the next one and struggle and fail, then polish it and succeed again. As soon as a performance is over you want to start another one again: New choreo, new program, new audience. As soon as a practice is over, you count the days until you can get back onto the ice again. That’s what makes you a figure skater.
The world of figure skating can be colder than the ice that performers do spins, jumps, and fancy arm movements on, but once you get into it, you never want to go back. I’ve only been skating for half a year, but believe me: I want to skate until my bones are as brittle as a rose dipped in liquid nitrogen and turned into ice. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what skating does to you.