“Understanding is deeper than knowledge. There are many people who know you, but there are very few who understand you”
How many friends do you have? How many of those friends are from skating? How many of those “friends” understand how difficult skating is? There is a separate world that only skaters can understand. It doesn’t seem to matter what country you live in, what language you speak, or how long it has been since you have seen each other. Skating friends are life long friends that understand you on a level most people can’t.
Unfortunately skating has the reputation among other sports that it is not a sport. Only someone who figure skates knows the true training that is needed in order to progress. Others mock us for twirling about when in reality we know the determination, dedication and intense physical and mental training it takes in order to succeed. I was the only figure skater in my entire high school and there was only one other skater who was in basic skills that lived in the whole city besides me. I lived in a small city where football, baseball and basketball were the only sports. Even the father of the basic skills skater (who also happened to be my chemistry teacher) didn’t believe figure skating was a sport. I would have teachers (including my Chemistry teacher) who would not sign my permission slip to attend a competition purely because they didn’t believe it was a sport. It makes my stomach curl just thinking about it that even grown adults can be so arrogant and disrespectful to a committed athlete. Needless to say, based on the mindset of the people in my city and school, I didn’t have many friends that I could relate to. As soon as I entered the ice rink; however, I was at home with my family. The bond that was created was shatterproof. We trained together, motivated each other and watched each other progress and grow. We traveled together to competitions, cheered each other on and helped one another in any way we could. We were family.
Traveling to competitions definitely created a stronger bond, but traveling on a touring skating show together created an affinity that only a show skater can understand. Show skaters live together, work together and travel together for up to 9 months at a time. Days off are usually spent together because the odds of you knowing or feeling comfortable going into a city to explore that you don’t speak the language or know anyone is pretty rare. Only the people on tour can understand what you have gone through and what you have experienced. They deal with the same people, same gross hotel rooms, same management, same work schedule and literally everything else. Even the people on tour who were not close friends who I spent the majority of time with, I still feel very close to. I am horrible at staying in touch with people, but anytime I talk with any of my friends from tour it feels like it was just yesterday we were on tour. It is almost as if there is a mutual unspoken understanding that we are there for each other no matter what. It doesn’t matter how much time is passed, how much you stay in touch, all that matters is that we are there if we need anything. Tour friends are really like family members.
Many of my touring skating friends and I knew that we couldn’t do shows forever. We would talk about all of our big plans of what we do when we “retired” from the shows. When speaking to my skating friends vs people I went to school with, the answers were like night and day. My skating friends had big dreams of opening their own coffee shop, starting a skating training club, becoming an entrepreneur and so on. My school friends on the other hand were going to college and getting any job they could find. My skating friends from around the world share the same passion for success as I do. We don’t want to be just ordinary. We are all striving to become better and more successful. I truly believe that my motivation and work ethic is derived from skating. The yearning for success is in a skaters blood. That is one more reason why skating friends are best friends. They understand and want achievement just as much as you.
Skaters understand the time, training, dedication and work ethic that it takes to succeed not only in skating but in life. Skating teaches many life lessons and valuable traits, but it also provides ever lasting bonds amongst each other. The skating world is like an extended family. We are always there for each other. Skating friends understand each other and stay forever…beyond words, beyond distance and beyond time.