An article on icenetwork that was published in 2016 by Sarah Brannen called What’s next? Skaters detail coping with retirement – End of career can leave void after years devoted to training, competing recently appeared on my Facebook newsfeed. The article includes statements from former elite figure skaters such as 2010 Olympian and US National Ladies Figure Skating Champion Rachael Flatt and 2006 Olympian and World Champion Kimmie Meissner. Both of these former elite skaters admitted their was some pain in exiting from training and competing.
The article also included a paragraph thet stated that parents of figure skaters also have to cope with losing the focus that has dominated their lives for years. Meissner mentioned that her parents went into almost a state of mourning after she was forced to retire from competitive skating due to injury.
Kimmie Meissner’s statement got me thinking about my own “life as a skating parent.” For more than least ten years, I was totally involved with every minute, every second it seemed, of my children’s figure skating training. Yes, I was a very real “skating mom,” I sat in the rink for hours watching every lesson. I watched every single practice and applauded every landed jump. I was there for every skating test. I rejoiced in every “good skate” at every competition and was there to comfort my children when an event didn’t “go so well.” I made friends with other skating parents and families and together, we rejoiced in our children’s accomplishments.
Then…little by little, that life, my life as a very absorbed skating parent and also the life I had as an absorbed home schooling mom, changed. My children didn’t need me to be at the rink all the time. Eventually, they didn’t even need me to drive them to the rink since they could drive themselves there. They still enjoyed me watching them practice and cheering them on, but I didn’t need to be there all the time, and after my oldest child joined Disney On Ice and the sister-brother pair skating team of Annabelle and Joel and the sister-brother ice dance team of Rebekah and Joel no longer existed, I was no longer a parent of competitive skaters.
I must admit that sometimes I don’t miss the stress of all of traveling to figure skating competitions, but I do also fondly remember “those days” which actually were not all that long ago. It was wonderful to see my children and other skaters work so hard on a daily basis. When programs were finally choreographed and ready to debut at the Fire and Ice Exhibitions at the Broadmoor Skating Club, I was so proud! I loved cheering for my children and seeing the culmination of their hard work.
At this time, my son Joel is traveling the world with Disney On Ice Frozen. When the tour was in the USA, I traveled to many of the cities where he performed and I have seen the show 15 times! My daughter Rebekah became a US Figure Skating Quintuple Gold Medalist (moves, solo free dance, pairs, dance, and free dance) and is now working on international ice dances. My youngest daughter, Annabelle, earned six gold medals, one more gold medal than Rebekah (moves, solo free dance, free skate, pairs, dance, and free dance) and is working now towards the goal of earning a seventh gold medal since she has passed two of the 10 international ice dances.
All three of my children still skate. When I have time I still go to the rink and watch them practice, so my life as a skating parent has not quite ended. I continue to skate for exercise and recreation. I see other parents at the rink doing what I once did and I cheer and rejoice for the parents and skaters I know that are still very much absorbed in the sport. I have more time now to do other things than sit in an ice rink for hours and hours, but yes, I do admit that there is an adjustment to make when the very absorbed life of being a parent of a competitive figure skater ends….
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