Though skating has not been as large a part of my life since my back injury, I was very happy to have been able to participate in the National Championships as both a judge and competitor this year. Last year I didn’t have much to report, but this year has seen a few major successes:
- Placed 3rd at Nationals in Figures and Solo Dance
- Judged National Championships
- Judged my first international skating event
- Earned my international judge’s credentials
If I’m being completely honest, skating at nationals took quite a bit of energy and effort from me, and I haven’t been skating much since then. I’m not planning on leaving skating; I’ve spent too much time and energy learning to be a judge, and I’m still too emotionally attached to it to just up and leave completely. But I think I’ve finally hit that point at which competition is no longer of much interest to me. When you grow up as a skater, you watch all of these great high level athletes retire, and I could never understand it at the time. It didn’t make sense that you could work so long and so hard to become such an amazing skater, then just leave it all. When you are working your way up, it is impossible to imagine the perspective from the top of the hill. But I think now I perhaps understand it. It is because I have worked this long and this hard that I can appreciate everything that has come to pass, be thankful for my successes, and accept my failures. I’ve had several people tell me that “you know when you are done,” and I think they are right. I know.
It’s been several months since nationals, and I haven’t had the urge to skate in the same way I once did. I do miss the training; the routine of getting up, practicing, going through the motions, striving for perfection each day. I do miss that. I miss feeling as though I’ve accomplished more in one morning than most people do in a day, long before they’ve even woken up. I miss feeling part of that crazy tribe who push through the freezing cold and the muggy swelter to strive for beauty in motion. I really miss having defined goals, and working to really achieve them. But I don’t think I miss it enough to go back. At least, not right now. I’ve lived it. I understand it, and I can appreciate the dedication it takes from others. But I also know that that sort of dedication takes a toll – mentally, physically, and emotionally. The hours and days and years catch up with you, and it’s my turn to pay the piper. And the trade-offs aren’t all bad. I’m enjoying things like getting more sleep, having more time to do other things with my day, and, most importantly, being in much less pain. There comes a point in a cost-benefit analysis, where the costs are too high, and, for my body at least, I’m pretty sure that threshold has been reached.
I’ve only really even had the desire to go to the rink at all in just the past few weeks. I’ve been skating far too long to completely let it go; I’m sure I’ll have skates on again soon. I’m curious to try all these new figures they’ve invented, to play around with things on skates to more fully appreciate the changes that are happening in the sport. But I feel no need to be competitive at them. It will be a transition period, certainly, but it is the right time to make it. It’s been a wonderful adventure, and I’m excited that it’s not really over. The goals and priorities are changing, and skating’s place in my life will shift, but it won’t be gone. And right now, that is just the sort of thing I need.