It seems like yesterday.
But it was 27 years ago. I’ll let that soak in for a moment.
The 1990 Interlake Regional *Precision Competition at the Stonewall arena.
I remember the weirdest parts of that afternoon. Eating pizza buns at a teammate’s house. Her mom driving my teammate (her daughter), my sister, and me to the competition. And the smell of the arena. I think some skaters would agree most rinks have a smell. We can’t describe it, but we own that smell.
Walking to the changing room. And then checking who we were competing against.
We were one of two teams in the advanced category. But we didn’t celebrate that we’d receive a medal by default.
We were up against the St. Andrews Precise-ettes. The best team in the region. One of the top teams in the province.
One does not beat the St. Andrews Precise-ettes. Sure, we were the provincial champions. In Recreational C. They competed at the provincial level too – in Novice. No one takes down the Precise-ettes. No one. They’d been to the Canadians! It was a thrill for the Arborg Junior Team to perform at winter carnivals. We’d get such cool goody bags.
We were last to skate at the competition – no pressure. Our team of 16 lined the hall. I was near the exit to the ice as St. Andrews were skating their program. And a Precise-ette fell. Then another one went down. By that time, our team was at ice level. In time to see another fall. I turned to one of my teammates with raised eyebrows.
St. Andrews looked shocked when they came off the ice. I was friends with one of the members, and we’d chat at competitions. And she looked crushed.
Our starting position was an “A.” Yes, “A” for Arborg. I don’t remember anything except bits and pieces. I’ve heard those are usually the best performances – when you remember bits and pieces or nothing at all.
I remember two things. All 16 of us speeding down the ice in a perfectly straight-line and doing a perfectly timed drag. And that we didn’t fall.
After our program, I believe within ten minutes we were back on the ice for the medal ceremony. None of us had a clue about our placement. Our coach and team manager were also in the dark. It felt like the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary when the crowd didn’t know which Brian won – Boitano or Orser.
Back to Stonewall:
Some teams learned their results from the competition board and/or their placements were announced on the ice, then the medals were brought by two people holding a dowel.
Call it miscommunication or an element of suspense. The medals for the advance category were skated out prior to the team placement announcement.
And sixteen faces fell. The gold medal was in front of us. I glanced over at St. Andrews. The silver medals hung in front of them. Our team was whispering; theirs wasn’t. But you could hear murmurs throughout the arena. There was even a hesitation before the announcement.
It. Just. Got. More. Interesting.
When they announced the winner? I’ll never forget the screams. One of our girls jumped about a foot off the ice. We were hugging, shouting, and laughing like little girls who just, well, won the gold medal.
We were still celebrating while they were trying to loop the medals around our necks. Back in our changing room, our coach was crying and hugging everyone. It’d been an emotional roller coaster season – and what a way to cap it off.
I remember getting home, and my sister and I hiding our medals under our shirts – the tradition when mom and dad couldn’t attend our competitions. I remember taking the medal out, and mom screaming and dad saying, “We’ll have to get those bronzed,” like he always would say when we brought home a gold medal.
And my sister and I giggled. Like girls who just won gold medals.
*Now called Synchronized Skating