By Katherine Ruch

Ice Skating really is a fascinating sport but it may take someone who is a glutton for punishment to keep at this craziness. If you had asked me a week ago what my stance on competitions was, I would have mumbled back something about how I was never going to let any of my students do a competition EVER again. Now that I am on the other side of the competition at my home rink, I’m feeling a little bit different about all of it. I prepared a handful of my students to do a competition last weekend and, for whatever reasons; the whole thing had yours truly a little unhinged.

Unlike the competition last year, I was NOT in charge of the whole thing which should have given me a huge sense of relief! This year I was still worried about it, just not in the same way. For starters, I’m not great at coming up with programs even though I realize that is a huge part of skating. Even though I used to want to be an actress and definitely have a thing for drama, I don’t always feel like I’m all that creative. I didn’t start skating till I was 17 so I’ve been much more apt to question everything about what I was trying to do before I ever even contemplated attempting it. I personally really love the technical side of skating, the mechanics of it all. In terms of programs, it terrified me that somehow my programs would fall flat or that may do an ill job of preparing my students for any of the host of things that can sometimes happen at a competition (I’m certainly glad the end of the world didn’t come as predicted for May 21, 2011, because I’m not sure even the best coach could prepare their students for that).

Even though I only had a few skaters competing that day, they were certainly varied. I had the Basic Skills kid who had been doing the same program for weeks, as well as the one who learned the elements the week before the competition. I had the adult who was totally up for doing the competition with few questions asked, as well as the one who took quite a bit of convincing. Somewhere along the way I had to realize that there is only so much you can do as a coach. When your student’s name is called and the music starts, it’s just them and the ice. Each and every one of my students who skated did a fantastic job and I am so incredibly proud of them!

The next day I passed the “moves” test that I have been working on for four years. It was truly a banner weekend! The weekend reminded me that I need to let my love of skating fuel my desire to coach instead of relying on fleeting success or gains because skating certainly has its ups and downs. I took a couple of bad falls this week but I am certainly not about to let that keep me from going to the rink tomorrow.

While I sit here and ice my knee, I may start looking for that next competition whether it’s for me or those kids. What a difference a week makes!


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