What Adult Skating Competitions Are Like
A skating friend (who does not compete) recently asked me what it's like to be at an adult skating competition. I told her briefly, and she told me to write a blog post about it so others can read about it. So, here I am.
My first adult skating competition, believe it or not, was Adult Nationals last year (2014). Go big or go home, right? I wasn't quite sure what to expect but heard some stories. I just had to go and experience it for myself.
My initial thought and fear was that the skaters would be catty and uber competitive. Remember, I come from a gymnastics and flute-playing background so my competitors in those respective hobbies were pretty cutthroat. Those athletes and musicians were rooting for you to lose because we were all competing for a spot on a team or musical ensemble. And many of those people liked to show off as well - see how high I can play! Watch me stick this landing! Look at me! I am awesome!
I am happy to report that adult skating competitions are quite the opposite. Generally speaking, skaters are very supportive of one another. We all know we're not going to the Olympics, and we all skate for fun. Most of us do not do this as a full-time job (there are some skaters who are also coaches, but I find that they are in the minority). We know how difficult it is to train, budget and practice for this demanding sport.
Adults from all levels will watch each other skate. We cheer each other on and help calm down anybody who's a bit nervous. We'll hug a random stranger or offer to help with each others' costumes or hair. And for large competitions (like Adult Nationals and Adult Sectionals), skaters will throw gifts onto the ice after your performance. These are called "tossies," and they are a big, big deal. You'll get tossies from skaters you may or may not know, and they can be anything from a stuffed animal to candy to handmade items. This is such a fun part about the competition since it's one of the only chances you'll get to literally be showered with gifts after a performance. (Can you think of any other situation where people throw gifts at you? Probably not.)
And what about the Gold level skaters? I was initially worried that these ladies would be very competitive, but it was not the case. All the ladies that I have met have been genuinely nice and generous about their support of one another. We all cheer for one another and give each other (real) hugs after our performances. If one of us has a bad skate or a fall, we do our best to cheer her/him up and offer compliments on what went well.
Although I've only competed 4 times, I have found the adult skating community - especially those at adult skating competitions - to be very warm and supportive. It's been a wonderful experience so far.
And because the same skaters tend to compete in the same events, it's a fun reunion whenever we see each other. I've made some good friends through figure skating, and it's neat to share the same passion with them. We're all in this together.