Why Hello There!

Since I'm going to have some new Internets friends coming by to my now "in heavy hiaitus" blog, I thought it might not be neighborly to have an ornery, guilt-ridden post about dead terrorists as a welcome mat. So, instead...

Figure Skating Competitions!

Here are my recollections from my Skater Grrrl's first competition, oh so many moons ago when a waltz jump made me grip the chair and hold my breath for dear life. Oh, Basic Skills competitions! When skating life was less fraught with danger and the price tag had fewer zeros!

Anyway...here it is, all the way from March 2008 (blurry screen as the way-back machine engages....)

This Is A Test

(Although, really, it's a competition.)

I'm going to say a word or phrase, and you say the first thing that pops into your mind.


Let's go!

"One hundred pre-teen girls together in one room"

Okay, what was your immediate response? Be honest now.

Did your response include any of the following:

a) Oy with the giggling already.
b) Oy with the whining already.
c) Hannah Montana Concert. Has to be.

Let's try another.

"One hundred pre-teen girls altogether in one room, and wearing fancy costume dresses and make-up."

How about this time? Did you say

a) Oy with the giggling and whining
b) I'm a little afraid
c) Club Libby Lu convention. Has to be.
d) At no time should I reveal my credit card; they might pounce.

How about another? Don't worry. All will be revealed shortly.

"One hundred pre-teen girls wearing fancy costume dresses and make-up, all getting ready to compete against each other."
a) Little Miss Sunshine competition. Has to be.
b) Uh oh...that means that the stage moms must be near-by.
c) I am very afraid.
d) Oy with the attitudes and whining. I liked them better when they were giggling.

Last one! You're almost done!

"One hundred pre-teen girls wearing fancy costume dresses and make-up, all getting ready to compete against each other by lacing-up white boots with 4 mm wide blades on the bottom and then proceeding to propel their pre-pubescent bodies at literally breakneck speeds across a sheet of ice on just those thin blades and sometimes leaping into the air, twirling blindly, landing backwards onto one foot, onto that 4 mm wide blade, with other leg extended and arms outstretched like swallows' wings, still speeding along on the frozen rink, and doing it all with grace and style and in time to thrilling excerpts from Sound of Music. Or to a tarantella. Or to any of the hundreds of Disney songs.

a) Uhhhhh... What now?
b) Oh! I get it! Figure Skating.
c) Oy with the steel pipes to the knees!
d) Hey...I've always meant to ask this to someone in the know: What the hell is a salchow, anyway?

Well, before I became an insider to the fabulous world of local figure skating competitions, I too was a little nervous at the prospect of being in close quarters with large numbers of young girls who were all getting ready to compete individually against each other in just about anything: figure skating, gymnastics, Tiddly-Winks...you name it.

Add costumes, hairspray, glittery eyeshadow, and a whole bunch of anxious moms, and I'd have guessed that the potential for comedy, tragedy, and a whole bunch of bitching would be just about 101%

I was wrong.

Very happily wrong.

Evidently, I shouldn't get all my information from movies and after school specials.

One hundred young ladies got glitzed-up and glammed-up and then put months of hard work, heart - and a little bit of chutzpah - on display in front of a darn big crowd of family and friends and let's not forget the judges.

I don't know about you, but when I was nine years old, if anyone asked me whether I wanted to perform solo Cirque De Soleil-like tricks in front of an audience and then receive scores on my artistic performance and athletic ability, I would have crawled into my closet and hid there until I turned fifteen. Which is what I did anyway, come to think of it.

But at last Saturday's competition, there were no abrasive stage moms. No whining ice princesses. No rush and holler from the grown-ups in the attempt to get all those girls on and off the ice and stick to a very exact schedule.

Instead, at last Saturday's competition I heard tween-age girls cheering and clapping for their friends, the friends of their friends, and even for the girls they didn't know very well. I saw parents and coaches give hugs and high-fives and enthusiastic pre-ice words of "Good luck!" and "You'll do great!" and, possibly most importantly, "Just go have fun!" I saw girls skate and spin and twirl and leap across the ice with strong bodies and nerves of steel, and if you've never seen a kid fall on her kiester in front of the whole world only to get back up again, pretend it didn't happen, and continue skating to the end of her program, then you don't know what chutzpah looks like, let me tell you.

And just so that I'm not one-sided - and to be honest and fair - I must also tell you that there were a few boys in the mix at this particular Basic Skills Competition. And although it might seem like a middle school-aged boy's fantasy to be one of the few guys in a room full of middle school-aged girls, I'm guessing that it actually takes much bravery of a different sort just step foot into the sparkle-diva sanctum sanctorum with your black figure skates standing out against all that spit-shined white.

However, a grand time was had by all, at least from where I sat. If there were any sulky or sad moments, the sulking was done out of the spotlight. Although, who could blame a kid for getting a little sulky or sad? Our local competition was, I assume, comparatively low key compared to the anxiety build-up before and melt-down after a bigger competition. But still...they're just kids. It's not often that people do the hard work of finding out what they're made of and who they are, and frankly, if I had half the chance, I'd tell each and every kid who competed - even the sulky ones - that just saying, "I'm going to give it a try" is a very strong first sentence in the story of themselves.

At the end of the competition, all the children skated onto the ice together one more time. They were tired, hungry, and beginning to get cold. Some of the kids huddled around their friends, keeping each other warm. Other girls skated along the far side of the rink, jumping and twirling and spinning in pirouettes...just because. Just because it was fun.

And then, one by one, every skater who competed that day was called by name to come forward and don their individual medals, while other gracious gals and guys also received their first-place trophies. Then they got in a big group and smiled and waved to their parents' flashing cameras - and on the count of three, they all shouted a boisterous victory hurrah.

The competition was officially over.

A few skaters took once last twirl, and finally, everyone skated off the ice together.

Some of them giggling like a bunch of little girls.

I may look cute,
but if you try to take my medal,
I'll beat you with these tea roses.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

We do water polo, not figure skating, but the sentiment is quite the same. Wait until it's your last season with these peeps because your kid is heading to college. Sigh.

S said...

Aww. I'm glad that it went well - and glad to know that girls can be nice (sometimes).

Schadenfreude Warehouse said...

Theater, baseball and--now--football veteran mother. Last one leaves the nest this year. It's chaotic and sad all at once.

How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath said...

i choose the AHHHHH answer..... just kidding... haaha

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