On Saturday the 17th of March 2007, my family and I spent the evening sat on the couch channel hopping until we found something to watch. I wasn’t particularly interested until we came across the Dancing on Ice series two finale. Clare Buckfield was flying like an angel over the ice on a harness and little eight year old me thought it was the most magical thing I’d ever seen. According to my mum, I jumped up on the couch and screamed “I want to do that!” so she said that in the Easter holidays, we could go ice skating as a family. What she didn’t know, and still doesn’t, is that when I said “I want to do that”, I meant the flying, and didn’t really care about the ice skating.
A few weeks later, my family, our friends and I, drove to our nearest rink in Blackburn and we all spent the morning feeling a very varied mix of emotions. I was speeding around the rink having the time of my life and only ever falling over when I was stood still (something that often still happens now). I took to the ice like a duck to water and fell in love with skating instantly – my brother not so much, but that’s his story to tell. Due to many arguments over the best method to teach my brother how to do a sport neither of my parents could do, my parents decided it was best to not go skating for a while.
Four months later after to much pestering, my mum reluctantly woke up at 8am on Saturday the 25th of August to take me to a 9am public group lesson. Having little faith in my commitment to anything, she believed that we’d attend the classes for six weeks before I got bored or found something else I loved more. Back in 2007, my mum thought that an 8am start on a Saturday was a horrible thing, little did she know she would soon be doing 6am starts and then 5am starts and the occasional 4am.
Within the year, I’d progressed to a level that required me to attend private lessons on a Sunday morning. I was so shy so I would only skate for the half an hour of my lesson and was terrified of all the “big girls”. My mums faith in my commitment, although growing, was still pretty weak. Soon I started making friends and attending more classes and before we knew it I was skating five times a week. By this point my brother had also taken up skating too so it made everything a lot easier.
I sacrificed a lot to skate. In my preteen years,everyone was attending sleepovers at their friends house or going out after school. I was going to bed at 9pm or earlier and spending every spare moment I had at the rink. Kids would be climbing trees, and I would be looking up at them from the ground so I couldn’t fall and hurt myself. (Don’t tell my mum but sometimes I still climbed the trees). When I look back I think that I might have missed out, but back then I didn’t care at all, so I wouldn’t change a thing.
Ice skating taught me so much more than just a skill. If I hadn’t gotten on the ice all those years ago I would be a completely different person. Skating taught me how to be confident and put on a show even when I was terrified. It gave me friendships and memories that I will cherish forever. It took me to places I could have never imagines. When I was 10, I competed in the Scottish International Championships – albeit I competed at one of the youngest age groups for the lowest entry level and came 11th out of 11, but none of the kids in my class at school could say they’d been to the Scottish Championships so I definitely bragged about that for as long as I could.
One of the most important things skating ever taught me was loss. I could put all my effort into a competition, train for months and give it my absolute best and then still lose. I never once won the gold, but I got plenty of silvers. I think that was always the worst kind of loss, coming so close and yet still missing out. It gave me a lot of strength, both physically, mentally and emotionally. I failed a few tests too, and that was always like being kicked in the teeth, but I still got up and tried again a few months later. No matter how many times I fell down, I always got back up.
Ice skating has been such a huge part of my life for the last nine and a half years. It has shaped who I am to the point where without it, I wouldn’t resemble the person I am today at all. When I tell people that after this Friday, I won’t ice skate as a weekly commitment anymore, they tell me that if I love something, I should want to do it all the time. People don’t see that I have loved skating for the better part of half my life, and continue to love skating, but I’d also really love to know life outside of this box I’ve been in.
For the last nine and a half years, ice skating has dictated whether I went to bed late or early, or whether I missed a gym session to let my body rest, its given me endless bruised knees and sore muscles, and after all this time I want my body back, I want my life back.
Like I said, I don’t regret ice skating, and I wouldn’t change the last nine years for the world, but my life is in a different place now. I’m ready to move on to new things and live a life that’s a little less structured. Yes, most of the next few years of my life will be structured around my studies, but that’s a new experience that I’m excited for.
If my life was a series of books, the first book is almost closing, and ice skating has been a story arc that has spanned over many chapters, from primary school, to high school and to college. I’ve grown a lot over the last ten years and ice skating has grown with me, but I think I’m beginning to outgrow it.
As my coach often tells me, I’m not going to lose the skill and you can trust that I will definitely be taking my boots with me wherever these next few years take me.
Love Georgie xo