This weekend, I had the thrill of watching some of the top competitors in one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous sports at the top of their game.
Judging from Sunday afternoon’s half-empty arena, Skate America, held this past weekend in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, generated only a fraction of the interest that the Bears’ 28-point loss to the New England Patriots did. Because figure skating involves music, artistry and appeals to women more than men, many don’t consider it a sport at all. Much the way romance novels are sometimes unfavorably compared to “real” books, it’s dissed as cheesy camp, rather than the real thing.
But speaking as a beginning skater who’s been struggling six months to learn back crossovers, figure skating definitely is a sport and a damn hard one.
In the last ten years, it’s gotten even harder—as the number of falls and serious injuries prove. There were plenty of falls at Skate America, but every time, the skaters got up, kept going and finished what they set out to do. Though only a few received medals, their perseverance inspired me, and not only in my skating.
Picture setting a goal, working hard, and making enormous sacrifices to achieve it. You try once, fall short, and resolve to try again, but this time, suffer a catastrophic setback that knocks you completely out of contention.
Do you give up, or keep going?
That’s the story of Skate America pairs gold medalists Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, who failed to medal at the Vancouver Olympics, and due to his catastrophic injury last season, missed the Sochi Olympics. But rather than give up, they came back and at the ages 32 and 30, skated the best programs of their career. “Inspiring” is the perfect word to describe it.
Look past the costumes, and you’ll see a boatload of grit from courageous and talented athletes, who fall down many times and persevere. The phrase “I get knocked down, but I get up again,” is more than the refrain of a catchy/annoying pop song. It’s wisdom to follow, whether we’re talking triple axels, novel writing, spreadsheets, or life.
Happy Monday, everyone.