Why Figure Skating Is One Of The Hardest Sports In The World

Why Figure Skating Is One Of The Hardest Sports In The World

It isn't all pretty dresses and makeup.
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I’m sure some of you laughed at that title, but the men and women who have participated in this grueling sport understand it’s the truth. I’ve been athletic my entire life. I’ve done soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, gymnastics, swimming, dance, field hockey, lacrosse, and figure skating, and I dedicated myself to all those sports. I can say honestly, however, that figure skating is the hardest sport and therefore the most rewarding.

While the stereotypical figure skating music is soft and slow and pretty, the people who compete with it are tough, fierce and driven. How would you feel after skating triple sessions in one day and you still can’t get the majority of jumps in your program? What about when there’s a competition coming up and your coach is making you do double run-throughs? We want to yell in our coaches’ faces but we can’t get enough air back into our lungs to express how badly our legs are burning. So without further ado, here are four reasons figure skating is incredibly difficult.

Blades

Our blades are four millimeters thick…four millimeters. We balance on very small metal edges as we fling our bodies into spins and jumps and footwork. It takes a heck of a lot more coordination and strength to stay standing as we go through our routines as opposed to running around on a field. Also, the smallest changes make the biggest differences. If you go too long without sharpening your blades, you won’t be able to do your jumps or spins with the proper speed or height. If you go too long without getting new blades, they will flatten out and make it literally impossible to do any skills. While it’s also important to get new sneakers or cleats for other athletes, using run-down equipment will not completely stop your ability to compete as it does with skating.

Falls

The falls are painful and frequent. The only way to improve is to try new jumps and spins…the only way to learn those new skills is to try wholeheartedly. Nobody lands a double jump for the first time if she doesn’t really try to jump. When you really jump high and lose control, you fall hard on freezing cold ice, which is just as soft as pavement and we don’t use pads. I’ve had bruises on my knees, hips, tailbones, elbows, even shoulders. I’ve dislocated my shoulder and knee during skating. However, when you fall that hard, you have to just skate it off. You won’t improve if you don’t take the falls, but just imagine that time you took a tumble on public ice that one time you went with some friends…you have to keep falling until you get better at gliding, but at least you’re not flying into a double double combination jump.

Flexibility

Personally, this was always the hardest part of the sport for me because I’m not naturally flexible. It is incredibly important, but not for the reason most of you are probably thinking of. It doesn’t matter so much if you can’t lift your leg over your head during a spin or a spiral. That skill is great for bonus points, but you have to be flexible enough to do the little things. For example, if my hip flexor is tight, I won’t be able to take off vertically for my jumps, which could lead to some fantastic falls. If my hamstrings are tight, I won’t be able to bend at the waist enough for a spin because it hurts too much. However, it’s very difficult to stay flexible enough because your muscles get tight when you work out hard on the ice, so you need to stretch enough after every practice to make sure you can still do the skills. It’s a relentless, difficult cycle.

Grace

While skating for four minutes straight and flinging your body into the air to do jump after jump and doing difficult footwork to get crucial points, you have to be present. The. Entire. Time. You can’t be hunchbacked with spaghetti arms as you skate. That presents a terrible image to the judges and audience. When you can barely breathe and you are frantically trying to stay calm for your next jump passage, you have to keep your shoulders down, have your arms out, your head held high and your torso upright. It takes so much more strength to stand straight while doing these skills as supposed to just channeling that strength into getting up in the air. Try this right now: keep your arms straight out from your body at shoulder length for four minutes straight. It’s not as easy as it seems, so imagine doing that while going all over the ice.

How on Earth is this sport worth it? What insane people would put their bodies through the constant pain and humiliation and stress just to do a perfect program on the ice? The answer is the people who have felt the incredible satisfaction and pride in themselves when they finally get it right. It could take months, but when you’re as stubborn as a skater, it eventually comes together and it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world to finally land that jump on the toe or to nail that jump passage in the program. The sport only attracts the type of athletes who are willing to go through hell and back to do their passion and do it well. It, therefore, is not for the faint hearted and should be recognized as one of the most difficult sports out there.

Cover Image Credit: Amanda Greel

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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The New 'Special One' Returns (Again) To Real Madrid

Soccer fans across the globe question what Zidane will be able to accomplish this time with a Madrid side that has faced many issues this season.

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On March 11, Spanish club Real Madrid announced that they would be firing former manager Santiago Solari and replace him with Zinedine Zidane immediately. This marks a second reign of leadership the Frenchman will have with the club as coach (he managed Real Madrid from the 2016-2018 seasons which resulted in nine trophies). Zidane left in May of 2018 just days after he helped secure a third consecutive Champions League title. This was the last time football fans and supporters ever saw Real Madrid on top of Europe. Since then, things have gone South for the Spanish giants.

The defending champions have been knocked out of both the Copa Del Rey and Champions League competitions. The La Liga club is also 12 points behind league leaders and arch-rivals Barcelona (which only adds more pain). Saying things have fallen apart at Real Madrid is an understatement. I can't think of many moments in which the team was this low. Real Madrid is one of (if not) the biggest soccer club in the world. They are more than a club. It's an iconic, brand-name powerhouse which has always had a long history of success.

So, seeing them lose over and over again is a weird thing to witness as a football fan. In my opinion, I think Zidane will alleviate some of Madrid's issues to a certain degree. I am almost 100 percent sure he will be able to fix the chemistry issues in the locker room. Players on the team have mentioned how much they enjoy playing for Zidane. He brings out the best in the squad and every player is content with their involvement on the field. Now I'm not going to be unrealistic and say Zidane is going to win Champions League for Real Madrid next season, but you never know.

The key thing to watch in the off-season is how much money Real Madrid is willing to spend. They have historically always been big spenders in the transfer window periods. To me, that is the crucial component of whether or not things will turn around for the club. Money (and lots of it) most of the time equals success in sports. Team President Florentino Perez has to open up his checkbook and allow Zidane to go all-out to get whatever he needs to change things at Real Madrid. If this happens, I have no doubts in my mind that Los Blancos will eventually return to being on top of the world.

All I know is that if Zidane restores the glory days at Real Madrid, people should start calling him "the special one" and not Jose Mourinho anymore.

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