My Skating Career Has Shaped Me Into Who I am Today

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To many people, age ten is young. In the world of figure skating, however, age ten is seen as too late to begin a competitive figure skating career. Age five is ideal. At ten, I fell in love with a sport dominated by kids half my age. When I enrolled in Learn-to-Skate classes in the fifth grade, I found myself arriving early to watch the experienced skaters train. Wide-eyed and in astonishment, I watched them whiz around the rink and thought “I want to be just like them”, but achieving that was unfathomable to me. Their parents enrolled them in lessons as soon as they were able to walk. I would be seen as foolish for taking my first glides at my age.

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Watching other kids execute high level jumps and spins while I worked on the basics left me feeling discouraged. Wiping tears away with my frozen and blistered fingers, I would question if I should stop wasting my parents’ money and hang up my skates for good. Even with this self-doubt, my love for the ice drew me back to the rink more and more often. I was hooked to the sound of my blade biting the ice, and the feeling of flying that couldn’t be achieved in regular shoes. When I wasn’t skating, you could find me practicing my jumps in the aisles of grocery stores, or stretching my splits while doing homework. To many people’s surprise, I improved quite quickly. As a result, I knew I had to raise the bar. The rink became my second home - many days I would skate at the crack of dawn, then headed back to the ice after my classes. The talk at school was all about parties and boys, but I still went to practice. In the summer, I traded sandy toes for a chilly nose in order to maximize my training time. Despite my extra hours at the rink, I still felt as if time was running out. Yet, I knew I had already sacrificed so much and could no longer see my life without the ice.

After a few frustrating years, all the 6am practices and hard falls led to my first gold medals. Competitions have become much more serious, but it is alright because I feel pride in being able to compete in difficult events with the other girls my age. I am no longer intimidated by the skaters I once idolized because I have begun to resemble them. Today, I can proudly say I have reached my goal of becoming a USFSA Gold Medalist, meaning I have tested into the highest discipline of skating in the United States. All that I have learned from this sport is not only seen within my 4:09 second routine; it is displayed in my daily life as well. Letting go of the rink boards for the first time presented me with rewards far more valuable than shiny trophies and award certificates.

Figure skating has taught me to be coachable. In order to improve, I had to seek guidance from my coaches and be willing to try new ways of doing things. This strength of mine has translated well into my academic life. As a student who has taken multiple honors and AP classes, I sometimes feel inferior to the geniuses surrounding me. However, I am still able to thrive in these competitive learning environments because of the open mindset that skating gave me. When struggling with a difficult concept, I never hesitate to reach out to my peers or teachers. I can see myself using this asset to be successful as I pursue my college education.

Thanks to skating, I have come to realize that. At age ten, I did not know that the thin ice I skated on would provide such a strong foundation for learning. Looking back on my skating career, it is clear that my time on the ice has shaped me into who I am today. The lessons skating has taught me will continue to help me throughout my endeavors, especially in college. The challenges of college may cause me to stumble, but it is the ice that has prepared me to get up with confidence.

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