Thursday, 16 May 2013

Midori Ito And Why Adult Skating Makes Me Smile!



Age is indeed just a number and anyone who thinks otherwise honestly doesn't know what they're talking about. Sorry bout it. It's true.

I was inspired to write this after learning this morning that once again, 1989 World Champion and 1992 Olympic Silver Medallist Midori Ito would be competing at the 2013 ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany. Ito, now 43, will compete against 6 other ladies (from Germany and the U.S.) for the Masters (Elite) Ladies II Free Skating title. Ito, who is a former World Professional Champion as well, shows just how strong her love for the sport is and how her competitive spirit still lives on by making this, her third trip to this competition in recent years, a reality. Her infectious smile and massive jumps (she's still landing double axels and triples) show that without a doubt she still loves being out there. And I know I keep going back to how ridiculous it is there are no professional competitions these days, but here's a good example of a skater who I'm sure would be happy to participate. Hear that, event organizers? But I digress... that's not the story I am here to talk about. I'm here to talk about how inspiring it is to see skaters of ALL AGES getting out on the ice and skating for the JOY of it.

And you might say, hey, look at that hypocrite over there... you used to skate! Why aren't you out there? I'm not saying I won't again at some point in my life. I've competed in "Adult Artistic" once before. It was a completely different experience in that I was actually on the very younger spectrum of the "adult" category at the time and competing against a lady (it was mixed) who was older than me. She was a doll and they ended up putting us in a tie for 1st. What a fun experience it was at the time though. I'd love to get out there and try it again someday, if the time is right. You never know. The thing is, it's not easy at any age to get out there, but there's something absolutely heartwarming about people who aren't 16 getting out there and giving it 110%. When you're 16 and you fall 10 times in an hour, you get up and fall another 10. When you're 36 or 46... or in your 70's like Ludmilla and Oleg Protopopov, you fall 10 times in an hour, get up, fall another 10 and walk around in pain for a week. Hell, I'm 30 and I already have my own version of the bend and snap going on. Trust me, it hurts come spring! It's one thing to keep yourself in great shape for a long time. That's amazing! But for these skaters taking up the sport later in life, or coming back to skating after long absences - I give you a standing ovation. It can't be easy. The thought of jumping honestly terrifies me!

The fact of the matter is that adults are getting out there and skating more than they ever did these days. Although the U.S. established a national adult competition in 1995, it wasn't until 2004 that Skate Canada followed suit. Now, adult competitions are held around the world, with the ISU adult competition Midori Ito is competing in boasting 325 entries from 19 countries between the ages of 28 and 78. 33 of those 325 entries are Canadian, with British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and even my home province of Nova Scotia being represented. It's a wonderful thing to see!

I have been blessed to not only participate in adult competition, but judge it as well, and one thing I can say is that the skaters participating have SO much fun out there it's unreal. And what that reminds us is that any age (which is only a number) to get out there and have that EXPERIENCE is what anyone who skates or has skated cherishes. So here's not only to Midori Ito, but to adult skaters everywhere who are showing their love of the sport. Thanks for making me smile!

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5 comments:

  1. I think you'll find it's Midori's third trip to the ISU Adult competition; she first came in 2011 and returned last year.

    Adult competitions rock! My husband and I are in our 60s but still enjoy competing, although having not taken up the sport until we were in our mid-40s, we are not very good and never will be. If our early season scores are reasonable, we may compete at Oberstdorf in 2014, but in any case we would not miss the 10th anniversary edition of the event.

    But there are several other competitions in Europe that are open to skaters of all nationalities, and, even though they are smaller, they are enormous fun.

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  2. I had the privilege of skating practice ice with Midori Ito at the US Open in 1994, I competed in the lower-end competition (challengers? Something like that) as a young professional; while I didn't do my all-out best, I received high fives from all the championship competitors on that practice and some nice words from Midori and Paul Wylie about my program. I'll cherish that forever. I competed as an adult for the first time in 14 years about a month ago, and was nervous as all get-out, crashed on the axel..but I DID IT at age 41 and so can you, Ryan!!!

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  3. Annabel - My mistake in not realizing that this was her THIRD - not SECOND - trip to this event in recent years. That makes it all the more remarkable! I'm absolutely thrilled to hear that both you and your husband took up the sport in your 40's. Don't sell yourself short - I'm sure you are both fantastic. :)) XX

    Debi - I can't even imagine what an incredible experience that must have been! What a special memory and experience. Good for you for getting back out there and giving it your all. You never know, I may get back out there someday too. I'll never say never. :)) XX

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  4. So Ryan, come and join us next year at Canadian Nats! I'd rather compete than test any day.

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  5. Lori - It may be something I take back up in the future, but I can't see it happening this year. I agree with you about competing as opposed to testing. Testing was not something that ever appealed to me, and was more of a means to an end. I loved competing!

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