Of all the ridiculous things that I chose to spend my time on, I think that my roller skating probably tops the list if that list were to be ordered by ridiculousness. I am a grown man, and I spend many hours and many dollars roller skating around in figure eights, and doing silly little dances in outfits that are covered in rhinestones. That is pretty damn silly.
Still, there is a large athletic component to it, and there is competition, and if you can look past the silly outfits and the preconceptions that most people have about roller skating, I think that you can come to the conclusion that it is just as valid a sport as anything else adult part-time athletes do. Then again, that could just be me trying to rationalize this crazy thing that I do.
Anyway, the National Championships for Artistic Roller Skating were earlier this month, and I qualified in one of my events, and even though I told myself I would only go if I qualified in both of my events, I ended up going. And so Kelly and I found ourselves driving up to Fort Wayne, Indiana a couple of weeks ago so that I could put on a spandex leotard thing and skate around in figure eights.
If any of you remember, I went to Nationals last year, and sucked big time. I don’t know if it was my nerves, or just a fluke, but I really messed up one of my eights really bad, and came in 17th out of 24. Not a great showing, and it kind of left me feeling down for the whole year, at least in regards to my skating. I was determined to do a better job this year. Even if just slightly.
And so on the morning that I was to skate, I was super nervous. Not only was there the pressure of doing better than last year, but I had been interviewed on my favorite podcast about this thing I do, and I didn’t want to let all of the listeners down. I was shaking, and shaking is a very bad thing to do when the goal is to be as precise as possible. But nerves and shaking are kind of par for the course for this event, so you soldier on.
Without getting into too many details of the actual skating, after the first round of competition I was in 2nd place. A good deal better than the year before. I had qualified for finals, which was my goal, and so no matter what I was going to be happy. Out of 25, they took 8, so I had done as well as I really felt like I could have hoped for.
And then something happened. As the day went on the nerves started coming back. While I originally figured I’d be happy just making finals, now it was feeling like I’d really only be happy with a medal. And even though I was in 2nd, that didn’t mean anything, because the scores are erased. And the figures that I had to do for finals were different than the ones that I had done for eliminations. And they included the figure that I messed up on last year. And I hadn’t practiced them in a couple of months. Things were not looking good.
But I got out there, and skated as best as I could. And something pretty damn cool happened – I came in third. I won a medal. I got to go stand on a podium with music playing and have a medal put around my neck. And while it isn’t the Olympics, for me it was as close as I’ll probably ever get, and it felt damn good.
I’ve kind of been riding this wave of excitement for the last two weeks. I might never medal again. Skaters in my club who have been skating years longer than have never won medals. And since I came in 3rd, I can no longer skate in that event and have to move up to a much harder one.
But all that being said, for now I can enjoy the fact that I did something pretty cool.