Inside the Mind of an Iceskater

Used with permission by Tiara Chakkaw

Used with permission by Tiara Chakkaw

Tiara Chakkaw, Associate Editor, Features and Extras, 2012-2013; Columnist, 2011-2012

When you think of ice skating, what comes to mind? Sparkly rhinestone embellished dresses, glittery hair in perfect buns, and graceful maneuvers, but what’s behind those cheeky smiles figure skaters flash on their faces? Landing that axel or flip didn’t come overnight; falling, bruising and injuries come from perfecting that jump or spin you see skaters perform effortlessly.
Any figure skater can agree that bruises and disappointment are part of figure skating, I for one can raise my hand to agree with this. I have fallen countless numbers of times practicing after-school to make that one spin more centered, to get more revolutions on my camel spin, to arch my back more during a layback spin, or to make the landing of a loop more clean. For the last two years, I’ve pushed myself to achieve perfection, as many other figure skaters do. I am beyond ecstatic when I’m finally able to do a maneuver I’ve been working on for weeks, perhaps months, but simply being able to do it isn’t enough, you need to be able to perform it.
Coaches push and push you to do better, to do it over again until you get it right. Figure skating has truly taught me how important determination and perseverance is. Without it, I would have quit figure skating the moment I started because having self-motivation plays such a critical role in this sport. There are several days where I become frustrated with myself, envying other girls who are perfectly landing doubles, and gracefully exiting a breathtaking spin, but what for? It seems everyone is comparing and competing with each other, even in practice, a place where you should be focused on yourself and your own progress. I guess this could be a major factor of why I’ve decided not to do competitions.
It’s important to set goals for yourself and have at least a general outline of what you want to accomplish in figure skating. Competitions can be a great motivator, but is it worth it to push yourself and compare yourself to others to the point where you no longer love something you once looked forward to everyday? Every figure skater has different experiences depending on when they started and what level they’re at, but personally, competitions were not worth making a sport I  love less enjoyable. Ice skating is my release of stress, where I’m able to set aside my worries about my future and academics or conflicts I may be having with someone and just skate. I didn’t want to add more pressure on myself to something I loved by worrying about being perfect for a competition.
I still greatly enjoy the rush and excitement ice skating brings me as I land a new jump or cleanly exit a spin which is why I chose to do figure skating recreationally instead of competitively. I’ve grown to cherish the hard work and dedication ice skating requires as it transfers into my school, work, and future.  Some skaters enjoy the atmosphere of  performing in competitions, but in my opinion, it’s unnecessary pressure. Even though the competitive side of figure skating isn’t for me, I still love the freedom of expression that comes with ice skating, and will continue to do it recreationally.