Figure Skating

I’m watching the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championship right now. I’ve always been in love with figure skating. It’s such a graceful and beautiful sport. I grew up watching Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan and the like. It has always amazed me how they leap off the ice and twist and twirl and spin like swans on a large frozen lake.

But tonight, I’m watching and these “women” are like 14 years old and I can’t imagine the stress they are under professionally and personally to win and get that medal. I know it’s not the Olympics, but in figure skating every medal matters. Every competition part of the road to the Olympics, and every little girls’ dream of standing on that podium with a gold medal around her neck. At the ripe old age of 18 one is considered a veteran in this sport. By 25 most skaters are retired or have gone pro. I wonder what they’ve all given up? I wonder what the grueling practices, the tutors, the travel, the lack of personal time have done to them in their adult lives. I wonder if they’d change anything, or do it even a little bit differently. Would they still sacrifice everything for a 4-minute long program they’ve worked on for over a year?

The young girl, Caroline Zhang, who inspired this blog just finished a beautiful program to the sounds of Ava Maria and has captured a standing ovation from the crowd. I can see the absolute joy in her face at skating such a beautiful program and it honestly made me smile to see her face look so radiant at now being in first place. But I wonder what she’s given up for that?

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