How Skating Taught Me Resilience

Let me tell you a story.

Picture it, Cornwall (Ontario), 1985. A young girl wakes up in the dark. It’s 5a.m. She’s tired but a quick jolt of the freezing cold hits her. It’s time for her to get ready to hit the ice.

Her mom warms up the car and the girl slip-slides across the icy pavement to get in. They drive to the rink and notice not a single soul is awake in this sleepy little town. The solitude of winter mornings never ceased to amaze her. She ties up her skates and jumps on the ice. This is the place where she feels most alive.

This is my story. I hail from the land of winter, hockey and of a rad Prime Minister. I grew up spending all my time at the rink. I was a figure skater — and I’m here to tell you how it shaped my world later in life.

I spent my summers in the capital of Canada, Ottawa. My time was spent training on and off ice, at least 5 hours a day. I wasn’t the best in my club, but I was pretty darn good.

Figure skating is tough. You have to be in the best shape of your life, you have to train intensely and you have to be dedicated, much like everything else in life. You fall, hard. You get back up. You figure out what you did wrong. You try again. You fall. And it all starts over again.

Since you’re a kid, you don’t think much of it. Your bruises and scrapes are like trophies, you show them off to your peers and you wear them like badges of honour. After all, falling means you’ve tried, right? You kinda feel like a badass out there, and that’s because you are.

Later in life, we need to learn to fall. To at least try. To learn where we went wrong. To get back up and try again. It’s hard, your ego sometimes takes a beating.

I once competed in one of the biggest skating competitions of my young life. It took months to train for.

Hitting the ice, my adrenaline was pumping and my nerves were on fire. The music starts and I’m bouncing around, skating hard, landing jumps with fancy spin combinations in-between. All of a sudden, I’m skating forward and…. my toe-pick catches and I fall across the ice — sliding and thinking “oh hell no.” I laughingly look up at my coach and expect to see her with her hand over her face. I don’t care. I get up, dust myself off and finish my program.

Just remember, you can always fall. You can always feel like all is going to fall apart but you’re the one out there, landing jumps, spinning in circles and busting your butt to do what you love. And you know what, you’re a badass for even trying.

I once asked my mom if she ever had any regrets about putting me in figure skating to which she replied: “No. It taught you discipline and determination, didn’t it?” It certainly did.

That kid who fell on the ice? Well, she took home the silver medal.

And she still feels really freakin’ awesome about it.

My 90s hair game is on point.