Tuesday, October 4, 2011
My Skating Addiction
My addiction started innocently enough. A friend from college, who is also a die-hard fan of the sport, happened to be in Cleveland during the 2000 U.S. National Championships, and she called me from Gund Arena, so excited about everything she saw. She said we absolutely had to go to Boston for the 2001 Championships. I'd always loved watching Nationals on TV, but I was thinking, who really goes to those events?
My friend brought me the ticket order form, and before I knew it, we'd plunked down a few hundred dollars for All-Event tickets. I flew into snow-covered Boston in January 2001 and had no idea what I was getting into, how many different places I'd travel to during the next ten years for competitions.
The first thing that jumped out at me in Boston was how the skaters I'd watched for years on TV were now walking all around me at the hotel and sitting next to me on the bus to the arena. I was completely starstruck! I didn't know where to look first.
The next thing that blew me away was how bright and sparkly the costumes were in person. Remember, this was before HDTV became popular. When the first group of skaters came out on the ice, I felt like I was in that scene in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy steps out of the black and white wrecked house and into colorful Munchkinland. I couldn't believe how every sequin glinted under the bright lights of the Fleet Center.
Watching the competition live as opposed to at home, I could really feel the emotion of the skaters, and the energy of the crowd heightened the excitement even more. I enjoyed seeing skaters that never made the TV broadcast, especially the young up-and-comers. I remember watching 15-year old Evan Lysacek place 12th and being so impressed with him. And I discovered a young skater, Braden Overett, who totally wowed me and made me a fan for life.
But the highlight was seeing my favorite skater of all-time, Michelle Kwan, compete. She owned the building. Nothing could compare to the frenzy she created when she stepped on the ice. Watching her skate was such a privilege.
After I returned home and told my sister all about my experience, I didn't have to do much convincing to get her on board for 2002 Nationals in Los Angeles. And from there, I couldn't stop - 2003 Dallas, 2004 Atlanta, 2005 Portland . . . eleven straight Nationals and tickets purchased for 2012 in San Jose. Along the way, I also added in Skate America as an annual trip and threw in Worlds '09 and the 2010 Olympics (which was a dream come true!).
I plan to continue feeding my addiction as it is a healthy one. Attending skating events has allowed me to visit cities I never would've visited, and I've met some amazing skaters, skater families, and fans over the years. Being at competitions is such a departure from the real world. My friends and I always joke about wanting to stay in the "world of sparkles and classical music" after we get home and have to go back to work. It's a great escape, a trip where you only have to worry about timing meal breaks between events and catching the shuttle on time for practices.
If you've never attended a skating competition, I highly recommend it! Even if it's just a small club competition at your local rink. It's so much different than watching on TV, and you'll have an all-new appreciation for the skaters.
If you're going to an event this season, let me know below! I have lots of tips I can share if you're a first-timer :)