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 ” …

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