A Sport All About The “Look” : My Experience with Figure Skating By Émilie Tittel

Figure skating is probably my favourite sport. I participated in many sports growing, but figure skating was the one I’ve stuck with for the last seventeen years. However, figure skating can be a very difficult sport psychologically.

 

I started figure skating when I was 4-years-old. I started off with what we call canskate. It is just group lessons for kids who are starting to skate. It was not until I was about 7 or 8 that I got a private coach with three of my friends. At this point, my only goal with this sport was just to have an activity during the week. However, the more I got to skate the more I wanted to move up in levels and compete as soon as I could.

 

 

My first competition was when I was 10. My friends and I was so excited. We all got new dresses and jackets for our figure skating club. Once we got there, that was when I got a bit of a taste of the unfortunate side  of figure skating. Girls kept asking me like when I got my dress, how much it cost, what the brand of my skates were and other weird questions. At first, I did not think much of it. Lucky for me and my friends, we had a really good coach who tried her best to keep us away from those people. So other then those little comments, the competition went really well.

 

It was not until I was twelve that I really started to realize how intense people can be in this sport. During practices, if you do not have a certain brand of skates or if you are dressed a certain way, you might get some stares. It can be a little intense, especially for such an expensive sport. For example, in a competition, if your dress or outfit does not seem to fit properly, you will get deducted points. This is when I realized that if you did not have the “look” the judges are looking for, you have a very small chance of placing in a competition.

 

 

It is the same thing for testing. For those of you who may not know, to move up levels in figure skating you have to pass a series of tests for every level. It is also divided in three different categories : ice dance, skills and freestyle. In these tests, you do not have to get as dolled up as if you were at a competition, but you still have to put on a dress and tights. These tests can get extremely stressful, because not only are you getting evaluated by a small panel of judges, but all the skaters and coaches tend to watch you when you skate. A lot of the times I could hear some girls judging the performances of others. It was not a great environment at times.

 

Another thing I believe is a big problem in figure skating is body image. A lot of girls in the sport have eating disorders or are extremely health conscious. A lot of bullying occurs between girls and the way they look. It is sad to see, because we all just want to practice the sport we love.  Once again, I have lucky enough to have a coach who cared a lot about us and made sure we did not feel any pressure to have the perfect body.

 

The competitive side of figure skating is not always easy. There is a lot of pressure to be perfect. However, as cliché as this may seem, the feeling I get when I get on the ice makes all of that go way. Figure skating will forever be a big part of my life. Even though it is a sport that is very much about having the perfect skates and the perfect outfits, it is a beautiful sport. It is something I love to share with as many people as I can.