I hugged the silver medallist yesterday at the Stony Mountain on Ice Competition.
Before the gold medal was strung around my neck, I embraced my competitor and said, “Thank you.”
Those words probably left her baffled.
In 1989, I won the Interlake Interpretive Competition. Music was chosen by the host committee – in this case the Selkirk Skating Club. On ice, we listened to the tunes twice. Then you’d hear the music a third time just before you skated, while waiting in the wings. Today, interpretive is called improv, and artistic is called interpretive. On the fly verses choreographed.
However, in Selkirk, there was an issue. The Selkirk SC didn’t have a podium, and I was awarded my gold medal on the ice, literally. In my adolescent skating career, I never won another gold medal in singles.
The 2016 Stony Mountain on Ice competition was important to me. It was my return to competition, and I wanted to stand on the top of the podium. I’m sure few people enter the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and inform their doctor, “I have a competition on April 2nd, and I’m not missing it.”
Everyday in the hospital bed, I ran through my program in my head. I’d listen to the music. Over and over. And I envisioned being in the gold medal position.
When I was released from the EMU on March 31, I knew I had to conserve my energy. I was running on pure adrenaline. While the program ran through my head, I’d never performed it on ice. I hoped the saying was true: sports is 80 per cent mental and 20 per cent physical.
My interpretive music, “Breathe Me” by Sia, was on repeat the day of the competition. Driving to Stony Mountain that Saturday, the CD spun like “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.”
But I had a split second of doubt when I saw my fellow competitor’s dress. It was gorgeous. She looked like a fresh tulip. I was tempted to rush to the second level and buy a dress from the onsite vendor. But, I calmed myself.
I paced. I retied my skates. I squeezed my good luck skating bear. And I skated. And I fell, exactly where my mom laughed when she heard the lyric “Help, I have fallen again” and told me not to fall.
I thought. A fall. An unpolished program. Surely, I’d receive silver. I reviewed the footage, videoed by my husband, and I laughed. Making it to the competition was a personal success. Missing top spot, I thought I’d be okay.
The results weren’t posted and skaters flocked to the Stony Mountain SC’s gallery to await the final awards ceremony of the day. And I saw the podium. Namely, the top step. After visualizing myself in that position so many times, I wanted to be there so bad.
When they announced the results for the Adult Intro Interpretive, my husband said he’ll never forget the look on my face when they announced the silver medallist.
And she approached the podium.
The 80/20 plan worked, and I’d won.
I was emotional as I walked to the podium. Those two weeks flooded back. The stress and worry, and 11 days in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. As bizarre as it sounds, when the medal was strung around my neck all I thought was, “It was worth it.”
I doubt the silver medallist knows my story, but this competition kept me going. Somewhere else for my mind to go instead of focusing on what was happening in the EMU. A happy place instead of reality.
My program forced me out of comfort zone. And I needed someone to push me.
And for that, I’m forever grateful to her.
Fun fact: This is the first medal won by an adult skater for the Arborg Skating Club.