I was a competitive figure skater as a little girl, in New Orleans, Louisiana of all places. I learned to skate, not terribly long after I learned to walk. I was three-years old, I understand.
I competed in freestyle events and as part of a precision team called the L’il Dixies. I used to have a stuffed raccoon that held all of my medals, and I just learned that my mom has all of my old patches and even some of my testing paperwork.
I skated until sometime in 4th grade, after we moved to Covington, when the commute to the skating rink multiple times per week ended up being too much for me. I think I was in Freestyle 4 at that point.
In my competitions, there was an “Over 40” division and usually there were not many competitors. I remember a lady whose name was Lulu, but I don’t remember much else, other than she competed in a lower division, like Alpha or Beta. This stayed in my mind as time passed, and I always thought it would be cool to be that lady, competing as an “old person”. (Oh how our definition of “old” changes over the years).
Well, I’ve finally made it to the “Over 40” division…..
In the 30 years that have passed since I was a competitive ice skater, I have skated a handful of times. While at graduate school in Indiana, I would occasionally drive to Carmel, Indiana to skate with their skating club. I had the best intentions to start skating then, but I was really busy in graduate school and the hour drive was too much for me. Another problem was my skates.
When I quit skating, my mom had already purchased a pair of boots for me to grow into (it was always easier to get used skates for a growing foot). However, she didn’t have new blades. Somewhere along the way, we decided to put my previous blades on these new boots. The boots were about 1/2 size too small for my feet and the blades were a little too small for the boots. The combination made them very uncomfortable.
I moved back to Louisiana and then to Texas, five and a half years ago. Again, I was resolved to start skating since I again lived in a state where ice rinks were present. However, I was a single mom of a very overcommitted baseball player, and the rinks are an hour away. There really wasn’t time, and besides, I still had that terrible skate problem.
It wasn’t until two years ago that things started to change…
The little change is my mom bought me a pair of ice skates for Christmas. They are Riedell Royals, the same skates I wore when I competed in the 80s. The skates are used, but they’re in great shape and most importantly, they fit!
The big change is that I got married to an amazing, supportive man. My family of two became a family of five. Together, we have three boys, now ages 11, 15, and 20. My baseball player is the middle child and he’s playing high school ball now, so we aren’t traveling the world as much for baseball tournaments. It won’t be long until he’s driving. The youngest is learning Tae-Kwan-Doo, but that’s not yet to a point where it’s schedule prohibitive.
I longed to find a sport my husband and I could pursue together, but that hasn’t been as easy as I had hoped. He’s into long-distance cycling and I get bored too easily. I’m into heavy lifting, but his knees can’t do squats. We’ve tried dancing, but I’m too much of a perfectionist and often too serious. I think the best thing to do is encourage his cycling and pursue my own interests. I tried that with CrossFit, which I love, but I’m a competitive person and honestly, I don’t know that I am ready to make the lifestyle changes I would have to in order to successfully compete in weightlifting type events.
On December 26th, my mom, my 15-year old, my husband, and I all went skating at the Memorial City Mall (my dad was with us, but he didn’t skate). Unfortunately, that morning, I woke up with a huge knot in my back, which bothered me more and more as the session progressed. I also haven’t fully recovered from a sprained ankle I managed a couple of months ago.
Two years ago, when I first tried my “new” skates, I could attempt a couple of jumps and spins, but now, I was hesitant to try anything because my back and ankle hurt so much. My stroking felt okay, my back crossovers in one direction felt strong (not so much on the other side), I squeaked through a couple of almost three turns, and I did a nice lunge. I did some edges around the hockey circle, but nothing exciting. My entrance to a spin attempt was terrible, I didn’t even try to jump, and my center of gravity was so far off on my spiral, it was embarrassing.
I convinced my husband to try skating with me in a dance position and reasoned that maybe we could learn to ice-dance and maybe he could even wear hockey skates. Unfortunately, he struggled with his knees after skating, so while I still have hope, I probably am better off working on my own skating.
I think it’s time. I have been taking a break from CrossFit and while I miss lifting, I want the chance to really be good at something. My husband says I could be great at CrossFit because of my strong legs, but I have those strong legs because of my figure skating foundation. They will also be beneficial to my return to ice skating. I have always missed it and always envisioned competing in the “Over 40” category. I’m in the right age bracket now, so why not?
I am considering signing up for an adult “learn to skate” class at the rink closest to my house. It’s only 20-minutes from my office, so it would be easiest to go after work. I can also go on some Saturdays. I am headed to the public session after work today to check out the rink and the commute from work and back home. If all goes well, I can either sign up for the winter session that starts next week, or try practicing on my own and then sign up in March.
But, first things first… Let’s see if this even makes sense…