Christine Ivey is only 13 years old but she has been skating for 6 years at the Huntsville Skating School and Training Academy and is already garnering attention from those in the figure skating world.
Ivey, a Pre-Juvenile level skater, recently entered the Rise Youth Essay Contest and was chosen to be featured in SKATING magazine. According to the publication the purpose of the essay contest is to provide young skaters the opportunity to connect with the history of U.S. Figure Skating and receive financial support in the form of grants. Skaters are asked to write about their personal stories as well as their thoughts on the movie RISE, which celebrates the history of U.S. Figure Skating, focusing on the 1961 World Team.
Ivey faced 130 competitors and was chosen as the winner of the Preliminary level. You can read her essay below.
From Dreamer to Achiever
by Christine Ivey
It all started when I saw the Olympics in 2010 at 6 years old. I had the flu – which was good and bad: bad because I was sick, but good because I was able to watch so much of the games. I really adored the skaters! They had such elegance and fluidity. I loved the pretty dresses and shiny skates. I was so mesmerized by Meryl Davis and Charlie White. I started to imagine myself skating like they were; they were so inspirational. So I begged my mother to skate over and over again. At the time, I was already participating in dance and cheerleading, so she made me wait. And being a typical 6-year-old she expected me to change my mind and forget about it. However, after a full year of continuing to ask to skate, she decided to let me because I was persistent.
Now, skating is not just something that I do, it is a way of life. Skating is where I have my good and bad days, my hard falls and exciting new experiences. Skating is who I am and it can’t be taken from me. Six years later, I am working towards my dream of becoming a world class skater. I want to be an Olympian because I want to be the best version of myself. Sometimes I find myself thinking of doing off ice moves while cleaning, jogging, or even swimming. I love working on new choreography and interpreting music in different ways. In fact, I did work on choreography today while walking a dog! Just like in the movie “Rise”, Doug Ramsey’s sister points out how Doug would walk around the house doing footwork and jumps. I sometimes get caught going through my program in the middle of the hallway at my school! I also walk around the kitchen practicing spiral positions and coming up with new arm variations for footwork. Skating is on my mind pretty much all the time.
So I have this goal of being a world class skater, but how do I get there? Knowing how to reach for goals can be difficult, but Melinda, my coach, is there to guide me. She is my rock and is like another mother to me. She teaches me not only about skating, but also about life and how to act. She influences me to be strong yet elegant, with great form and rhythm. Sometimes I doubt if I can do certain moves, but she believes in me and encourages me to try anyway.
I am fortunate that my family has supported me since day one. My mother and father support me with their time and money so I can accomplish my dream. They both drive me to and from the rink, pay for the skates, the ice time, all the travel, the competitions, the skating camps, and the outfits that I need to compete. My brother, grandparents, aunts, and uncles also come to my competitions when they can, and my two little cousins come with them. Having everyones support helps me feel like I can accomplish my dream.
However, even with others’ support in me, I have learned over the years that my attitude matters more than my coach’s or my parents’ attitude. My attitude about my skating shows in my results. When I don’t think I can do well, I don’t perform well. When I believe in myself, I usually skate my best program. I have to be my own strongest supporter because without confirmation from my own mind, I cannot achieve my full potential.
For example, I am asthmatic. Asthma can be triggered by strong emotions or dry, cold air – both of which are everywhere in figure skating. In the movie “Rise”, Dorothy Hamill talked about being nervous for the first time at Nationals, and that she wanted to quit, but her coach said: “Sure you can, after you go out and skate”. Just like her I understand about dealing with pressure and getting nervous. At my first out of state competition, I had my first sudden asthma attack, but I had to get up and keep skating. With a burning throat and a tight chest, I was gasping for air. I had no energy and felt like collapsing. But I got up and convinced myself that I was too good to let the judges think I was a quitter. I had to prove I was strong enough to stick with this sport. So I identify with Dorothy Hamill’s experience. Her coach and my coach understand the importance of following through till the very end and not giving up.
Before watching Rise I did not know who the 1961 US Olympic team skaters were. After watching “Rise”, I have realized how important those skaters truly were. They inspired many generations to enjoy figure skating, either as a sport or as an art form. Even my Granddaddy Taylor has talked about Peggy Fleming and watching her on TV, but I had no idea who she was until now. I am starting to understand that Olympic figure skaters are human like me, and they have fears just like I do. But they also have inspired generations of fans as well. The legends that were on that plane made a difference that lives on through the coaches and influential skaters to this day. And I am one of those skaters.
You can view Ivey’s essay in SKATING magazine by clicking here.