Learning from Failures: Three Student Figure Skater’s Perspectives

Making mistakes and learning from failures have been a daily part of these three women’s lives. They have been bruised, blistered, and disappointed. They wake up very early most mornings and head to the rink to practice. They do not live the “typical student” life. Their lives consist of going to school, working a job, and well, ice skating. I asked each of them to share a powerful story of a challenge they’ve faced over the years as ice skaters that has in turn made them great.

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Photo Credit: Maggie Orchard

Maggie Orchard is a junior at DePaul University majoring in Public Relations & Advertising. She has been ice skating for 19 years and coaching for 5 years. Here is Maggie’s story about how she handled a failed routine that put her at the top:

“I stepped on the ice for my last competition. I had been skating for 17 years at this point and I was about to end my figure skating career. I worked so hard to get to where I was, early morning practices and blistered feet. My coach choreographed the perfect program for my last competition. It was to Christina Aguilera, “We Remain.” I still remember the program to this day.

I did my first spin, then my double toe jump. Then I froze, I could not remember what was next, so many things were running through my head, but I knew that I needed to keep going. I started skating and making up the rest of the program on the spot. I heard the song so many times that I knew what was coming next and the parts where I could make it look like I remembered what I was doing.

Even though I made the program up on the spot, I still skated a clean program and was able to include everything that I needed. I could not believe what I had done, when the results were posted it said, “First Place – Maggie Orchard.”

I had never been so shocked and impressed with myself to pull off a clean program that I made up on the ice while I was competing, and then to get first place was pretty cool. Figure skating has taught me to be creative and learn from mistakes. My last competition didn’t go how I had hoped it would, but I think it went better.

Figure skating has pushed me to be dedicated to my work and passionate about success. I think on and off the ice, figure skating is always with and a part of me. I wouldn’t be the same person without it.”

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Photo Credit: Courtney Dziadosz

Courtney Dziadosz is a junior at Western Michigan University majoring in sports management. She has been skating for 19 years. Here is Courtney’s story as to how she learned from a mistake and had to work harder because of it:

“In figure skating, there are a number of different U.S. move levels you have to complete. Each level has at least 6 patterns. Once a skater feels they are ready to test, they go in front of a panel of 5 judges. The patterns have to be perfect in order to pass. Each skater gets one re-do out of those 6 patterns. It takes a lot of hard work to pass these tests.

Before going to college, I went through all the levels pretty quickly, except junior level. It was my senior year of high school and I still didn’t pass the junior level. My goal was to finish all the levels before college. I ended up not passing the junior level moves before college and had to continue them at Western.

With it being my first year of college and being a part of a team, it was time consuming to practice these moves. I had to find time in my busy schedule to work on them.

When practicing at Western, I passed junior level and then I passed senior level. I completed both of the hardest levels within a couple of months. I realized that maybe if I didn’t avoid those as much I would’ve passed sooner. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you as long as you have the passion to do so.”

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Photo Credit: Clarissa Messina

Clarissa Messina is a junior at East Leyden High School. She has been skating for 12 years. Here is her story about overcoming a challenging experience:

“At nationals of 2015, I was made an alternate in synchronized skating. I would switch in and out of the program. My coach said, “You’ve improved more than anyone else on the team.” One of the girls who was put in, broke a circle and fell, which is a part I’ve never messed up before. That fall caused us to drop down to fourth and barely place. We didn’t receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal.

It made me feel really defeated. I know I could’ve done better, but there’s no way I could’ve proven that. I was just not given the opportunity to show what I could do. That experience shaped me as a skater because my whole attitude changed. I don’t slack off anymore. I work as hard as I can any time I’m on the ice, especially when competing. Before this experience I would work hard, but I didn’t think of it as, “I need to be perfect every time,” sometimes I would just practice “to practice.” Now, I practice like I would perform.

I learned that with skating you just have to persevere and fight through whatever obstacles come your way. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you may not get the opportunity, but you can’t give up.”

Despite these women being different ages and having different levels of skating experience, they have all had to learn from their mistakes and failures. They all believe skating has shaped them through their experiences. Without it, they don’t believe they’d be the students or the people that they are today.

Additional Links:

https://www.thoughtco.com/world-of-figure-skating-1282103

https://www.thoughtco.com/become-a-figure-skating-coach-1281803

http://usfsa.org/Content/colleges.pdf

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/career-planning/getting-job/i-want-your-job-ice-skater-5328596.html

https://ice.riedellskates.com/2010/key-qualities-of-a-successful-skater