When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.
– Alexander Graham Bell
Right now, we’re living the quote about one door closing and another door opening. My daughter, Christina (Chrissy), has competed in senior ice dance in Great Britain for the last four years. Her partner, Mark, decided last weekend to retire from competitive skating. Chrissy always felt that Mark was the best match for her and decided to retire at the same time.
So now what? Even though Chrissy and our family are sad about the abrupt end to Chrissy and Mark’s competitive skating career, we have faith that everything will turn out alright.
Before focusing on the future, I think it’s always good to reflect on the past. Not too long or too regretfully, just enough to be grateful for the experiences and to review the life lessons.
I asked Chrissy what were the highlights of her 14-year competitive skating career (from ages 6-20). She had a lot:
- Skating with her brother, Will, early on. She’s glad she got to do that and that they had so much time together.
- At age 8, her first year (and medal) in pairs at the 1999 Junior Olympics (which later became Junior Nationals).
- Travelling with our family to competitions and meeting up with grandparents and other family members at various competitions.
- At age 11, landing a throw double axel and triple split twist during a clean novice pairs long program at the 2001 North American Challenge Skate in Vancouver, Canada.
- Competing at US Nationals.
- Having some great memories and experiences with her skating partners (Will, Harry, Stephen, and Mark).
- Living in England and meeting her husband, Tom (a life-changing highlight).
- Working with top coaches around the world.
- The off-ice aspects of being an athlete from discovering her passion for health and fitness to taking lots of dance classes.
- Earning a First Class BA (Hons) Degree from Sheffield Hallam University at age 19 while training and competing in ice dance full time.
- Being a skating ambassador at events such as launch events for SportsAid/Lloyds TSB.
- Performing as a soloist in shows.
- Interacting with skating fans. It always meant a lot to Chrissy whenever someone told her they were touched by a performance or said a performance brought tears to their eyes.
- Being able to inspire younger skaters.
- Meeting lots of people and making friends from different countries around the world.
- Competing in 9 different countries (many states in the US, Canada, many places in the UK, 3 times in Germany, 2 times in Italy, Czech Republic, Finland, Austria, and North Korea).
- Being a senior national medallist in Great Britain and representing the UK internationally.
- Winning two international medals at senior ISU competitions.
- Being one of the few Americans invited to visit North Korea, along with winning the 19th Paektusan Prize International Figure Skating Festival in Pyongyang, North Korea.
- Competing at Europeans and Worlds and being a World Team Member in Turin, Italy.
I think figure skating has to be one of the best possible avenues for self-growth. In an interview, 2003 USA World Team Member Ryan Jahnke talked about boys in figure skating. (Update: The blog with the original interview has been deleted.) When discussing the benefits of figure skating, Ryan said:
For me, I think it was one of the most challenging and the hardest things I’ve ever done. . . . I’m at the point now where I feel like anything I set my mind to . . . I can do it. Because I feel like nothing I could possibly come across in life now is going to be as hard as figure skating was, as hard as the competing was.
Chrissy noticed that she was never nervous about performing in ballet recitals as a girl. The other girls were nervous. Chrissy said that it was easy compared to figure skating competitions. I truly think the difficulties and years of preparation needed to reach the top levels in figure skating are among the best preparations for life in general.
I asked Chrissy what life lessons/life skills she’s gained from her competitive skating career. She said her top skills gained were the ability to:
- present herself with poise and confidence.
- act, dance, and perform in general.
- communicate with many different types of people.
- be responsible from a young age.
- manage time with a busy schedule.
- make a commitment and stay with it.
- handle stressful situations and perform under pressure.
- set and achieve goals.
- take risks.
- know how to win and how to lose.
- handle both success and failure.
Those are life skills that have served Chrissy well already in life and will continue wherever her life path leads.
So, now we’re waiting for the next door to open. Chrissy has a number of possibilities:
- Chrissy and Mark are performing this weekend at the IceAct Chiller shows in Cardiff and Altrincham. Chrissy looks forward to any show skating possibilities in the future.
- She already teaches performance classes and private performance and choreography lessons and plans to continue those.
- She’s a personal trainer and enjoys building her business and adding to her fitness credentials.
- She will start a series of Stott Pilates training courses in August to become a certified Pilates trainer in mat, reformer, and trapeze.
- She’s taking a Glominerals training course (which she learned of almost immediately after hearing of Mark’s decision) to add to her performance knowledge and credentials.
- She plans to start a FitBodyFullLife blog and a ChristinaChitwoodPerformance blog.
- She hopes to produce and distribute fitness and performance ebooks and DVDs and promote products that she has liked herself.
- She has enjoyed past modelling experiences and now has more availability for modelling opportunities.
- She loved her acting experiences during her BA degree and in the filming of the Sheffield 2012 video. Now she will have more availability for acting opportunities.
The exact direction of Chrissy’s life will depend on which door opens at the time. Now, with optimism, we wait and see. . . .
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