Hey sports fans!! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am a self admitted “rink rat” so a lot of this blog will be about figure skating and hockey, however as an ex-figure skater, ex-varsity athlete and a sports fan in general, I usually have thoughts and opinions about alot of different sports I follow, so visit often!
This post was inspired by an 8 yr old girl whom I haven’t actually met yet. Her dream is to become an Olympic figure skating champion and her favourite skater is Mao Asada. So, when I sent her a couple of Mao photos that I took at Boston Worlds, this is the surprise I received a day later on my desk. So cute!
I am getting to know this future Olympian through her dad who works at my company. He did not know I used to figure skate but one day recently he asked me why I was not in the office on Friday. I explained that I pulled an all nighter to watch 4cc and Yuzu and that prompted us to start talking about figure skating.
In learning about his daughters progression in skating, it got me thinking about my early skating memories. So, I’m using this post like a small diary entry for me so that as time goes on and memories start to fade away, I can always look back at this entry and recall those fond memories.
I started skating when I was 4. Like Yuzu I also have a December birthday so I started skating early. My first pair of skates were Karen Magnussen skates and when I went to the rink, since I could never get them tied tight enough, the local rink care taker would help me tie my skates every day!
When I first starting dreaming about the Olympics, my first challenge was a tryout for our Provincial Winter Games team. Only 3 skaters were selected from this tryout and I came in fourth. I recall being devastated that I didn’t make the cut but that was when the competitive streak in me really got going.
My first local competition was in my hometown and I placed 3rd!! My first medal ever, a bronze!! I was so proud of that medal, I wore it all the way home and for the rest of the day! I am still connected with the 2 girls who placed in gold, silver. While we did not live in the same towns, we forged friendships that lasted beyond our skating careers.
My very first competition dress was made by my grandmother who, bless her heart, gave me a slightly crooked hemline on the skirt. I never noticed it until I saw the podium pictures in the local newspaper. Now, to have this angle cut is totally on point in fashion, so she was well ahead of her time!
Back then, we always registered at a competition with 2 cassette tapes of our program music. I still have those cassette tapes of all my music over the years although I can’t imagine if they are even playable anymore.
My best friend growing up decided that entering skating competitions were not her thing so she changed from figure skating to ringette. However, because she was my BFF, she still travelled with me to many competitions over the years and helped carry my skates and other gear. I was in charge of carrying my mascot (Tumzie) who did not contain any kleenex but he was my rock throughout my competitive career. My mom and dad had to work to support my Olympic dream so I often traveled with my coach or other skaters parents who would drive their kids.
One of my favourite memories is getting approval from my parents to go to “summer skating school”. What that was: 4 solid weeks of 6 hours/day training, six days a week. It was fabulous!! 4 hours on ice doing free skate sessions, dance sessions and figures (we used to call it patch back then), and 2 hours of off ice sessions (conditioning and strength training, and music interpretative classes). Going to this skating school involved me moving to a different city and staying with a billet family.
At the end of my summer skating school, I entered a competition to close out the summer. Each time we went to these competitions we would get goody bags (I guess the new term today is “swag”). In the bag, we would always get a copy of the program that listed skaters and the sponsors, and various little gifts. This competition was special for me because after I found my name in the program, I also found Kurt Brownings name. It was his first year in the senior mens category. My billet at the time told me to keep an eye on him because he would be great someday, boy were they right! I was only a novice level skater then but for me it’s a cool souvenir.
I look at the Skate Canada programs they have today and it has definitely changed over time. Here are the badges that we earned when we were learning to skate. This 12 badge program was replaced a long time ago with the CanSkate program which is what skaters will see today.
Once I finished the initial badge program, I progressed to the next level, where more emphasis was put into the 3 disciplines; Figures, Dance and Free Skate.
I only made it to my 3rd figure which was pretty good considering I hated doing figures. It was boring and cold but it taught me edge control!!
In Dance, I made it to the Senior Silver level. I remember that once you got into the Senior Bronze category, to take the tests, your partner had to be a male partner. Since we didn’t have any guys in our club, we had to go to a different city, practice with a male skater for one session only and then take the test shortly after. I still have some of my test protocol paperwork indicating where I lost marks due to wide steps after mohawks etc or lack of knee bend. They are funny to read now.
In free skating, I made it to the Junior Silver level and then never took the test. Basically I ran out of time, graduated high school, and had to go get an education. I wish I had documented more of the requirements a long time ago, but if I recall correctly:
These days people ask me if I can still do jumps. Yes some, but not like I could before. When you are small, fear of jumping/falling is not something I ever thought of. When I fell, I just got back up and tried again (and again). Nowadays, falling equates to possible injury and how would I get to work? So, I’m picking my battles, and just skating for the pleasure of the feel of the ice.
Childhood memories are so priceless and I wish I had been better at keeping a journal or something when I was younger. But, I am fortunate and thankful to have these memories. I hope we will all get to see the little girl who inspired me to write this post in the Winter Olympics. She should be there in 2026!
Ok, back to regular programming! Worlds is coming up and I will post my Worlds predictions soon!! Stay tuned!
Go Yuzu Go!!! Doki Doki!!