Tag Archives: Kimmie Meissner

Shoes Instead of Skates

17 Jan

By Kimmie Meissner

It’s been six years since I’ve been at U.S. championships. This time I arrived without my skates, toting around a silly amount of shoes, for all the possibilities nationals can hold, even for the spectator.

Arriving at the arena for the first time, seeing the ice and the panel set up for the judges, a wave of memories came rushing back and I felt as though I had never left. Is it possible for the desire to compete to ever leave you? I thought it was until I finally sat down and watched my first skating competition since beginning to compete myself. There’s no easy way to describe what it’s like being here and not participating. In some ways, I’m glad I don’t have to be out there risking everything and pushing my body to its limit, but in many more ways it feels wrong to be sitting on the sidelines and traveling without my skates.  Talking with friend, and fellow Olympian Emily Hughes, we both agree, “it just feels really weird”.

There were a lot of things I didn’t realize happened before we all took to the ice. I had no idea the videos being played were so intense, really adding to the anticipation of that last group. I had no idea they showed people in the audience, just like many other sporting events. I had no idea just how nerve wracking it can be to watch your friends perform programs that can change their lives. Watching the ladies free program was a roller coaster ride of emotions. As a skater you know what is going through their minds and how it feels to receive that standing ovation or fall in front of a nearly sold out arena. It’s nearly impossible not to feel the skater’s exuberance or their heartbreak, as I found myself in both tears of sadness and joy.

Something else I felt was that familiar pull to the ice. The itch to compete can never leave an athlete, no matter how much time comes to pass. That desire to skate and to test my character all while standing alone in the center of the ice surrounded by thousands is hardwired in my soul and will most likely always present itself in the presence of every skater’s stage.  A stage that is both welcoming and daunting.

Hello again, old friend.

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Four Minutes that Could Change Everything

3 Jan

Through the 2014 Olympics, World and U.S. champion and 2006 Olympian Kimmie Meissner will be helping as a blogger and commentator for U.S. Figure Skating. This is her first entry:

By Kimmie Meissner

My laces cut into my hands. It’s a familiar, comforting feeling as I tie my skates up before the final warm-up group. The locker room is silent, aside from the muted roar of the crowd that seeps through the walls and makes the floor shake. Or maybe those are just my legs preparing for four minutes that could change everything.

Up until this moment I’ve been defined by my dream. I have been relentlessly training, chasing and shaping my identity around a sport that calls for the utmost of commitment. I decide to focus on the monotonous hymn of the crowd and the creaking coming from my skates instead of the repressive, excitable atmosphere of the holding room.

Closing my eyes, I reflect on how I came to be here at Nationals vying for a spot on the Olympic team. Ten years of sacrifice. Ten years of success, failure and everything in between. Ten years of amazement while I discovered just how much I was capable of.  Never had I prepared more efficiently for a competition than the way I approached the 2006 U.S Championships.

Every day was one step closer and I was determined not to leave anything on the table when I took to the ice in St. Louis, especially when it came to my preparedness. This was what I could control, and my focus had narrowed in the week leading up to Nationals. I had run my programs religiously, followed up with select sections and spins. Then there was off-ice training at the end of my ice time, a constant test of where I was mentally. Did I believe I’d be making the team in January? No. I barely let myself think about the outcome. The only thing I was certain of was my ability to fight and perform the way I had trained.

Opening my eyes and returning to the arena in St. Louis, I begin heading out to the ice. My heart is beating sporadically, but I force myself to breathe, reminding myself of the possibility of my dream. The other girls shuffle their feet or jump about to actively keep their muscles warm. I walk closer to the ice taking in the view and savoring the hopeful optimism brimming over from the assembled people. Weeks of talk, expectations that might be realized and the pressure only I could place on myself bubble right below the surface. I look at the faces of my competitors, fellow U.S. Team members, and recognize the look in their eyes. Every athlete plays out what they hope for, watching a movie reel only visible to themselves, before taking the stage to bring that movie to life. Closing my eyes once more, I let the calm of confidence wash over me and revel in its warmth, smiling at the opportunity laid out before me. The work has been done. The hours filled with small-scale victories that pushed me closer to this moment.

“Will the following ladies please take the ice for a six minute warm-up ” …

Third annual “An Evening on Ice” set for July 20 at the Toyota Sports Center

10 Jun

An all-star cast of athletes is scheduled to perform at “An Evening on Ice,” including 16 U.S. champions, six Olympians and five World and World Junior champions. Two performances are set for Saturday, July 20, at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif., with all proceeds benefiting the U.S. Athletic Foundation.

Razzano_D_FS_027

Douglas Razzano, a recipient of U.S. Athletic Foundation funding, is set to skate in this year’s performance.

Now in its third year, “An Evening on Ice” strives to raise funds to support top competitive skaters who have demonstrated financial need, have a track record of success but who do not have other funding avenues available to them through the U.S. Athletic Foundation.

This year’s event, hosted by five-time U.S. pairs champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, will feature performances from 2006 World champion Kimmie Meissner, two-time U.S. champion Alissa Czisny, 2010 U.S. champion Rachael Flatt, 2012 U.S. champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, World Junior champion Joshua Farris and 2012 U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon. Also scheduled to take the ice are 2006 U.S. bronze medalist Emily Hughes and eight-time British champion Steven Cousins, among others.

The U.S. Athletic Foundation is a non-profit, donor-funded organization that offers financial management services to nationally and internationally competitive figure skaters. The foundation was envisioned by 2002 U.S. junior champion Nicholas LaRoche and his sister, Tricia. Working together, they created a training assistance fund to help promising athletes who are held back from their potential due to financial hardship. Among the beneficiaries of the fund are Czisny, two-time U.S. pairs silver medalist Mark Ladwig, Ice Challenge silver medalist Douglas Razzano and U.S. pewter medalist Courtney Hicks.

Tickets range from $35 to $105 and are available at the door or online at http://www.usathleticfoundation.org/events.html. Donations to the U.S. Athletic Foundation can be made online at http://www.usathleticfoundation.org/donations.html.

SkateFest in Renton, Wash.

10 Jan

U.S. Figure Skating has held SkateFests in cooperation with the Disson Skating shows that have taken place throughout the country. This week, U.S. Figure Skating is in Renton, Wash. at the site of PANDORA Unforgettable Moments of Love on Ice, which takes place at the ShoWare Center on Friday, Jan. 11. Here are a few pictures and videos of the SkateFest fun.