Monday, 19 February 2018

Getting Competitive

So, last post I mentioned I had a major piece of sharing news to share. Well today’s the day, I can officially say that I'm going to be competing in April!

I’m entering a competition run by a charity, Inclusive Skating. Go give them a like on Twitter by following @InclusiveSk8 and you’ll be able to follow the great work they’re doing. The charity runs competitions for skaters with an impairment, among other things, and they have a scoring system that means skaters with and without disabilities can compete together - I’m still learning how it works but it’s a great idea. Classified athletes get an impairment compensation added to their scores, and elements that normally wouldn’t be called by a technical panel now have a value.

Let me explain why I’m entering. My sight affects my safety on the ice as I don’t have full peripheral vision, and my balance and reaction times. So when I’m skating, if I, for example, do a 3 turn and get off balance, I’m more likely to hit the ice, as my eyes can’t get the message to my brain fast enough for me to correct. I find doing any rotational movements at speed harder, and it takes me longer to pick up skills because funnily enough, I’m not a visual learner! I’m also restricted in when I can skate as I don’t drive, and I’m not comfortable travelling to or from the rink at night, due to crossing roads etc.

So, in May last year, I entered our eink’s artistic competition. The winner from each category went on to a final event at another rink. I scored 18.5 out of 30, and came 5th out of 6 skaters. I believe the next skater scored around 23. The adults weren’t separated by level like the kids, so I was competing, with basic skills against people working on their Axel. For the first time at the rink, I noticed how my impairment affected skating. I noticed my disability, and felt different.

As an aside, I will say I skated in our rink’s group number at the final event - thank you amazing coaches for giving me that chance, and letting me tweak footwork slightly so I could keep up!

I wanted to compete but as an adult with an impairment I’m currently not at the right level to enter the same events my friends do. Inclusive Skating was on my radar, but I’m someone who tries not to let my eyesight issues define me, so I’d always said I’d see how I got on competing before I went down that road. After May, it became clear that actually, this was something that could really help me and give me the confidence to say, “yes I have a disability, but look what I can still do!” I spoke to my coach, and she agreed to help, although it’s all new to her, too!

Lots of my friends are entering another competition that runs the same week as the one I’m doing, and already I feel more a part of the community as I’ve got the same prep to do, the same nerves, and my friends are so supportive. They’re talking about trying to Skype before I skate, which just blows my mind. I was the kid no one wanted on their team in PE, and now I’ve got people who are cheering me on. One said, “we might not be able to be at the competition with you, but you’re not going alone, we’re there in spirit. You’ve got all of [rink name] behind you.” I skate at the best rink ever <3

Next week I’m going to a big rink to meet with a coach who will be attending the event, and once she’s had a look at my routine and clarified some things, the entry form will be sent off. This is really happening, isn’t it?!

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