Those who watch figure skating competitions know that more often than not there are plenty of missteps in the top competitive matches. Historically, or let’s just say back in the day, it seemed like the top reigning performers for the current year would have to lose the contest before anyone new could win. Much like a boxing match where being the champ seemed worth a few extra rounds to the judges, figure skaters seemed to get a few extra points based on their past performances. It would take a tremendous effort to knock the top skaters off the podium. Much has been done to alleviate prejudicial judging in figure skating contests.
All that being said, U.S. ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White surprised no one this year when they skated a near perfect program in solid gold. The couple earned every point and took the crown. Skaters and other athletes would be wise to look at just what this couple has done to reach their life-long pursuit in ice dancing.
Viewers of all things artistic and otherwise have seen young people from many competitive arenas talk about how winning a particular contest is something “they’ve worked their whole lives” to accomplish. But more often than not, just how they define their “whole lives” and the length of their “wholes lives” pales in comparison to the dedication and effort of Davis and White. Davis and White have been at it for 17 years. Those who know the regimen for figure skating training, practice, and preparation understand that such efforts are pretty much at the expense of most everything else.
Despite the costly training, gear, coaching, and travel—much of the figure skater’s lot is not privileged, but rather one of blood, sweat, and tears. There are no lazy competitive figure skaters. None are out of shape. None are unscarred by cuts, bruises, twisted or torn muscles, battered or broken bones. It is by no means a sport for the faint of heart.
When we reviewed the manuscript for MaddieTakes the Ice at Sporting Chance Press, we got the inside scoop on just how difficult it is to live in the world of competitive figure skaters. Books like Maddie Takes the Ice can be good theater and life lessons jump out at readers. But like so many other difficult, disciplined endeavors, figure skaters often leave the sport with a significant strength of character that will help them succeed for the remainder of their lives. From plenty of pain comes great gain. Like other top athletes, figure skaters have a focus, a regimen, a dedication that keeps them close to their craft. Their lives are focused on performance. But competitive skaters have the same needs for companionship, love, and acceptance that everyone else shares. Conflicts can be sharp and in some ways more transparent. In this way, their stories can be dramatic and interesting to the rest of us.
Thank you Meryl Davis and Charlie White for your tremendous performances. And thank you for the excellent example you give to young people on what it takes to become excellent athletes and achievers. .