Where do I begin? It’s a lifetime in the making. Literally. 28 years went into these Olympic moments and medals here in Pyeongchang. It feels like a fairy tale ending to the most incredible journey I could have ever asked for. I am filled with gratitude and pride. I couldn’t have wrote a better story.
The only thing I had left to do in my career was have an “Olympic moment”. I didn’t happen perfectly in Sochi 2014. The feeling of disappointment I felt when I finished skating my long program there is indescribable and it changed my life. Tears of disa
ppointment and regret as I met with my husband and family. I was left unhappy for the rest of my Olympic experience. I was bitter and jealous of all the other athletes that achieved their goals and were happily enjoying the games, as I sulked my way through the remainder of the games. When I left my room to the rink here in Pyeongchang for my final long program I had one goal: To be happy and proud when I finished my performance. To have tears of pride and joy.
I had a note that I wrote myself when I arrived at the games, and I gave Eric the same note. “Mind our own business”. It became my motto. Keep my head down and do my job, regardless of what was going on around me.
We arrived at the Olympics to compete 4 programs in 7 days. Something that we had never done before. But it’s the Olympics, and we agreed that we wanted to skate as much as possible on the Olympic Ice and we wanted to win 2 Olympic medals. A gold and likely a bronze. That was our target. Our mission. We worked really hard this season, to take our season step by step, competition by competition. Although we didn’t always skate our best, or win each competition, we never once felt disappointed with our effort. We felt like each competition we accomplished something and then we built on it for the next.
Our coaching team at home prepared us perfectly for this moment. I am so proud of the fact that during Eric and I’s entire career, we rose to the occasion EVERY SINGLE TIME. We peaked at all the right moments. And that wouldn’t be possible without the amazing work of our team at home. This season we worked with new choreographers and coaches, and although we didn’t see them as much as we wished, we learned so much from them. Igor worked with us every week all summer and fall on skating skills and our programs development, giving us new insight to our stroking and movements. Julie, Sylvie and Ian kept us focused on improving ourselves everyday. Bruno took on the role as our head coach this year and I feel like his involvement was vital to our success here in Korea. Bruno made sure he was at the rink for every one of our training sessions, and if we were working with a different coach, he made sure to stand in on their lesson so he stayed on top of everything we were doing and learning and mastering. The past 9 months we have never been left to train alone, without a coach. And it’s the first time that happened to us in our career.
We arrived in Pyeongchang more ready then we have ever been before. I felt like I could tackle anything that was thrown at me. I was so confident, so calm and so focused. The team event was everything we hoped it would be. A chance to compete one last time with our teammates and friends, as one. It felt like a family competing together. Eric and I didn’t want to just win the team gold because of our amazing team mates, we wanted to win the gold because we went out there and delivered gold medal worthy performances. We didn’t hold anything back and we delivered a clean short and almost clean long (Hand down on quad counts as clean to me :P) Our performances and scores for the team event gave us a lot of confidence as we prepared for our own event.
Standing on that Olympic Podium with our team mates was such an incredible moment that I will never forget. We were all giddy, like school children, worried that we would forget the new lyrics to “Oh Canada” (Which Patrick and I did, as we sang the “original” Oh Canada).
The day after the medal ceremony, when Eric and I went back to practice, I had a funny moment. I was stroking around and thinking “Now I’m an Olympic Champion. Will I skate differently?” and the answer was no. I was still the exact same person and skater as before. We didn’t miss a beat, getting back to training for the pairs event. Our focus didn’t waver and our practice was as solid as ever.
The day of the pairs short we watched backstage as every pair skater performed amazing short after amazing short and the scores escalated. We knew if we wanted to stay in the mix, we needed a clean short. There wasn’t room for a bobble. Both of us felt pretty nervous for the short program but we have done clean short programs at home every single time our music played since the Grand Prix Final, so we knew we had it within us to deliver. I felt tight in the first few elements but after the throw, I felt a release of tension and become more emotionally invested in the program. I found the pairs elements to be better then in the team event, as well as the emotion, fluidity and speed, so we were sad that our PCS score was judged the same as the team event. When you feel like you preformed better and with more emotion and interpretation, it’s always a bit surprising that the panel didn’t see what you felt. But, we were in no way disappointed. We were really happy to find ourselves in the final group for the long, and in fighting position for the medal we dreamt of for so long.
The day of the long program was so relaxing. It was definitely not how I imagined I would feel. Practice was seamless, so calm and smooth, and Eric and I came to the rink for the event still feeling that calm energy. It was almost eerie in a way, I wondered if I should try to pump myself up. I guess that’s what happens when you are so ready and so prepared. As we waited backstage while the Germans skated, I was unsure how they were skating. I wasn’t hearing a response from the audience so I thought they were either skating terribly or they were so great that the audience was mesmerized. As we passed a computer screen, I saw a row of green boxes, meaning that the Germans were perfect and no element was under review. I felt a moment of happiness for them and it was immediately followed by Eric and I joining hands and reminding each other that this was our turn and our Olympic moment and it didn’t matter what score the Germans got, it didn’t change the fact that we could create our own moment out there. I barely heard their score announced, I was so focused on our job. Standing in our starting position I felt so settled, and then, my mind went blank. I don’t remember thinking much of anything until the very end. I had a very brief moment after my triple lutz error, where I reminded myself that the lutz was done and I had to move on strong, and that was it. Autopilot took over and away we went. I truly felt like I skated with my heart and not my mind, which has always been a huge challenge for me to do. The moment our music ended, my body couldn’t handle it anymore and I fell to the ground with relief and pride. We had done it. We had lived that beautiful Olympic moment that we dreamt about and worked so hard for. The emotions were so raw in that moment. I didn’t care about a medal or a score. I just wanted to relish in the pure joy I felt of a job well done.
Watching the Russian’s skate felt like the longest 4.5 minutes of my life. As I squeezed Eric’s hand telling him that I think we had it, and Eric would respond so firmly that he won’t believe it until the scores are posted. Finally, it was finished and we had confirmation that we won the bronze medal. We hugged, we cried, we told each other that we loved each other and we thanked each other for a job well done.
We stood on that podium and received our bronze medals with pride. My bronze medal looks and feels like gold. It almost feels like a lifetime achievement award, that will forever serve as a reminder of an amazing journey.
I’ve learned so many lessons during my skating career, but the most important lesson of all is to NEVER GIVE UP. I’ve learned that the most difficult roads often lead to the most beautiful destinations. I’ve run into endless amounts of road blocks that I had to find a way around. I failed thousands of times to get these Olympic moments and medals. I was counted out and criticized. I’ve been told so many times that I can’t do it. I don’t have the right body; I don’t have the right skills or I don’t have the ability. I looked at all of these challenges directly and I responded “Watch Me”.