As far back as my memory reaches, Figure Skating has been a captivating spectacle that I admired from a distance. Despite harbouring a childhood dream of gliding gracefully on the ice, the lack of a nearby rink relegated that aspiration to the recesses of my mind. However, in February 2009, a revelation during an episode of Dancing On Ice reignited that passion, leading me to embark on a transformative journey that has now spanned 15 years.
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The catalyst for my plunge into the world of Figure Skating was the resounding message from “Torvill and Dean” during their Skate UK program advertisement: "Skating is for anyone, of any age; anyone can do it." Taking their words to heart, aged almost 26 and in my first 'adult' job allowing me to consider paying for lessons, I found myself at a "Learn to skate" session at Murrayfield in Edinburgh one Sunday morning. Little did I know that this decision would shape the next chapter of my life.
What is it about Figure Skating that has kept me hooked for all these years? It's an indescribable passion—an infectious bug that once caught, never releases its grip. The sensation of flying, the exhilarating speed, and the ability to disconnect from the world when gliding on the ice are simply unparalleled. It's a feeling of freedom that transcends the boundaries of daily life. This sport provides not only an enjoyable form of exercise but also an opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.
Contrary to the misconceptions about Figure Skating being a light workout, it demands an incredible amount of physical exertion. More challenging than running a half-marathon, a mere 3-minute free program on ice leaves me more fatigued but deeply fulfilled. It's the perfect exercise for those who aren't drawn to traditional gym routines, offering a holistic workout that engages the entire body and cardiovascular system.
One of the unique aspects of adult Figure Skating is the ability to set personal goals without the pressure of comparison. Each skater follows their own path, making the journey deeply personal. While frustrations may arise due to physical limitations or financial constraints, the sport teaches resilience and perseverance like no other.
The international adult Figure Skating circuit has opened up a world of opportunities for me. Competing in events like the ISU adult competitions (there are 2 each year, the main one being in Oberstdorf in Germany) and the Winter World Masters Games that happen only every 4 years, has taken me to various corners of the globe, allowing me to forge lifelong friendships. Unlike the competitive atmosphere one might expect, these events are characterised by unwavering support and encouragement among participants. It's a community where individuals challenge themselves to achieve technical feats they once deemed impossible. The beauty is that you can enter the level that suits you best, and with the technical requirements for each level being mostly aspirational, each one can find their place with what they are able to do on ice.
Figure Skating has not only brought a newfound perspective into my life but has also gifted me an international family. The friendships forged during competitions have transcended borders, with invitations to visit friends on different continents becoming a common occurrence (and vice-versa). The camaraderie and the shared passion for the sport have created a unique bond that extends beyond the ice rink.
For those considering Figure Skating but thinking they're too old to start, I offer a resounding encouragement. At the Winter World Masters Games in 2020, the oldest competitor—a remarkable 83-year-old lady from Canada—started her journey in her 60s. So, don't let age be a barrier; join us on the ice, and let Figure Skating open doors to a world of exhilarating experiences, friendships, and personal growth.
Lace up and see you on the ice!
- Mika Bosphore-Ward