Monday, July 27, 2015

First Competition Day!

(Yes, I know the Test Came First, but this was a good day. Test Post will follow.)

Stitch got back from camp while I was at Rink FarFarAway for testing, and I only got to talk to him briefly before I headed to bed Saturday night. Sunday I had to be up early to help set up for the Comp. And Skate the Comp! I told Stitch to sleep as late as he wanted, but head over to the rink when he wanted to so he could help out.

I picked up coffee and breakfast on the way, and once at the rink I helped load goodie bags, greet at the door, take music and set up the podium. Judges arrived, and one of them was the same judge from Saturday's test.

"Hello again!" I smiled at her.

"It's like it was only yesterday!" she smiled back.

I had told Coach Fab that I didn't need him there at the Home Rink Comp. I'd be fine that day, and I wanted to see how I did by myself. He had complied. And I had lots of Rink Friends to take my guards and jacket and generally babysit me, which is all coaches do really at competitions. I didn't need a babysitter when I was at Home. Lady Cluck, Skating Friends, Coach Friends, they were all around me to cheer me on.

And I was really proud of how I handled myself. I noticed how I generally don't freak out at performances/competitions the same way I do a full-on freakout during testing. But I was most proud of myself for what happened on Practice Ice.

Someone came around with a clipboard to check me in, and I looked at the list. The ice was pack jammed, and it was all high level skaters. My adult skating friend looked at me with mortal terror in her eyes. "This ice is full..." she said in a dire tone.

"Yeah, it's full," I replied. "And it's going to be fast and aggressive, because all these girls want to win. So be ready."

As the final Snowplow Sam event wound down, the girls and I had started gathering by the Zam door, all of us chomping at the bit. The energy was high and contagious. When the last tutu'd tot staggered off the ice with her coach, the ice door monitor said, "GO! GO!" and the announcer informed the audience what was happening: Thirty minutes of a full on territorial battle royale. "And now there will be a thirty minute practice ice session."

Like horses out of the starting gate, twenty five fast skaters bolted onto the ice at full steam. Some warmed up with stroking, others went right for their starting position and coaches were barking orders over the music and other coaches also barking orders. I was a warmer upper, skating the shakes out of my legs, residual energies going where they shouldn't. Once I felt good, I went for a good spot nearabouts my starting position and went through the program as best I could without nailing anyone or being nailed. Timing was not important now, but I held the music in my head. Bigger skaters stopped for me and I stopped for them, all with a fast, "Sorry," on both ends before moving on. We all knew. The only near collision was me with an oblivious kid, not paying attention as I tried to dodge but she veered right into my path anyway. She gave me a dirty look but frankly it was all on her.

But I maintained focus. I ran the program in pieces, working out the harder elements, the finish with its awkward pose, the jumps. Thank god I had no spirals, forward or back. And as the ice slowly cleared, I did slow swizzle laps to connect muscle, blade and ice and think that I'd done this dozens of times and all I had to do now was trust that it was going to work. The fast ice had not scared me or thrown me. I was still there. Still focused. Like it had been absolutely nothing at all. Fast ice? Who cares. All those Power Skating classes where I'd feared for my life had paid off in spades.

I had about twenty minutes or so before my event. Not long enough to take skates off or go very far. Without a coach, I was better off staying near the Ice Door Monitor to hear her call. So I plugged in my headphones to drown out any potential negative energy floating nearby and bounced to the music, keeping my legs warm and my energy high. Compulsory events went on, and I saw the monitor wave at me to line up for our warmup.

"Can someone get the cones?" the announcer asked from the booth. No one moved.

I waved and flourished and went out to fetch cones to some applause. Which gave me a few extra seconds on the ice, as the other girls plowed out for a three minute warmup once the cones were clear. I was already across the ice. Now that there were fewer of us, I went for full on program runs. I got in two, I felt good, and I realized then that if I did anymore I'd be pushing my luck. Warmup was called as over, but I was the first to go in the flight. I tossed my jacket to the door monitor, glad to stand in for Coach Fab, and skated out as my name and club were announced. That felt so good and so right.

I made for my starting pose, the music started, and everything fell away but me, the judges and the audience. Spins were great, garnered some applause, Sal was high and smooth, bunny hop into lunge was good, and I had a minor lapse on the tap toes into a half flip, but I recovered it fast and moved on. And by then I was on autopilot. My legs knew what to do, so I vamped. It was over before I wanted it to be.

I did a flourish and bow to my applause and headed off, exhilarated. Nothing and nobody had rattled me. I was too warm for a jacket, and one of the other adults had come in and video'd me. "I'll get you a copy!" he waved. I headed out of the rink to get my skates off and settle down.

Or try to settle down. Still high off the event, I wandered around, chatting and laughing and wondering how bad my makeup had smeared with sweating. Suddenly Lady Cluck called me over in a loud voice, "COME GET YOUR MEDAL!!"

Oh mercy what color would it be? Did it even matter? I'd skated really well! I got applause! I was still standing!

All three judges landed me in first. Take that, rulebook. Stitch had arrived at this point and was distributing medals. "Sign here, please," he pointed to the results sheet. I signed, he gave me my medal. "Congratulations."

What a ride. Snowplow Sam the bear was all goofy eyed on my first skating medal with a blue ribbon, and I laughed a bit. I took a results sheet for posterity, and went to change back into street clothes. I texted Coach Fab the good news, and he was happy for me.

And then I crashed. I'd been keyed up for over forty eight hours at this point, and it was over and I'd won. More than a passing test or a medal, I'd proved to myself and everyone else what I could do. And I was suddenly exhausted. I sat down next to Lady Cluck and tried to eat a bagel, but the act of eating was too tiring and I gave up. "I need to get my music," I said suddenly, and started to get up.

"I got your music, mom," Stitch said, still in his official mode. "It's in your Zuca."

"Bless you," I relaxed again. Plenty of babysitters.

The rink began to empty out, with the last of the solo dance events finishing up and the judges filtering out. We said thanks to them as they left, and I began to collect all my things. "I have to go, I'm dying." Many fond farewells, and I headed home to collapse on my sofa with a beer and bad TV. Stitch played video games and made me laugh as he murdered Hannah Montana multiple times with a saxophone that made things catch on fire.

My Skating friend had also gotten first place, and I was proud of her, too. I'd convinced her to do the competition at Compulsory Adult 6, and she'd nearly backed out at the last minute. I threatened her with death if she did, but when she was done, she was holding her medal and blinking and saying, "That wasn't so bad. I can do this. What's on the Pre-Bronze test?" I told her she was perfectly capable of doing Adult Test Track. If I can, anyone can.

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