It seems like such a funny phrase to say at 32 years old. “I am retired”. I don’t like it. I’d rather say, I am moving on to new projects. I’ll still be skating. Heck, I’ll probably continue to train quite a bit as well, simply because I love it. But for now, I’ll say good bye to competitions.
I feel so fortunate that I am able to stop on my own terms. I wasn’t forced out of the competitive arena because of an injury, or because younger skaters starting creeping up behind me, pushing me aside. I am one of the lucky ones that achieved everything, and more, then I ever dreamt possible. And I realize how rare this is, in life and in sport. To have no regrets. To have achieved everything I set out to do. To finish on a high. And I feel so content and satisfied.
I woke up everyday and went to bed every night with the same vision and dreams for about 25 years of my life. Olympics. Worlds. Canadian Championships. Having great skates. Personal Bests. Standing ovations. Inspiring people. Doing things no one else did. Pushing the sport. Changing the sport. Standing on the podium and seeing the Canadian flag. It’s all I ever wanted with my life. And I worked for it. The work never stopped. There was always something to improve. Always something new to learn. It’s what I loved most about my life actually. The work process. I love to train. I loved waking up in the morning and busting my butt. I never once didn’t want to go to training, no matter how bad things were going. In 8 years with Eric, I think I missed one training day, maybe two, but I’m pretty sure it was only once. No injury or sickness or lack of motivation could hold me back from working towards my dreams.
Over the years I was so fortunate to work along side and be inspired by so many people. When I was 14 years old I moved away from my family to train. I spent 7 years training at the Mariposa School of Skating as a teenager, 2000-2007. That’s where I learned what was possible in the skating World. Jennifer Robinson taught me what hard work was. And Takeshi Honda and the men that trained at Mariposa inspired me to want to do quads one day. It was at Mariposa that I learned pairs skating with my first partner Ryan Arnold, whom I broke up with to concentrate on singles skating (oops!) before changing my mind to do pairs again. Thanks to Lee Barkell and the coaches at Mariposa I had a fruitful junior “career” and competed for the first time internationally for Canada.
In 2007, as I was questioning my future, I got a phone call to do a pairs try out in Montreal from Craig Buntin, a former National Champion and Olympian. This was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. I immediately moved to Montreal when I trained with Richard Gauthier, Bruno Marcotte, Sylvie Fullum and Julie Marcotte for 10 years. Skating with Craig gave me opportunities that I had given up dreaming about. World Championships and International Medals seemed long gone for me but here I was, in the middle of it all. Skating with Craig taught me a lot about my morals and values as a person, and about what type of partner and team I wanted to be. I was able to take these lessons into my partnership with Eric, where I (we) could eventually thrive.
This past year Eric and I decided to stop working with Richard and continue our working relationship with Bruno, Sylvie, Julie and Ian Connolly. We introduced a new choreographer, John Kerr and worked in Florida for a few weeks in the off season. For the first time in our career, Eric and I spent almost all of our training time in a lesson with coaches. Very little, to no time was spent training by ourselves. We also trained at a quieter training centre. We went from skating with sometimes 7 teams on the ice, ranging from pre novice to senior, to training with one or two senior singles skaters and a junior pairs team. We had more opportunity to play our music and more space on the ice to move. I don’t think we realized how much we needed this, until it happened.
I feel so grateful to all these people that touched my life through skating. The coaches, choreographers, my various partners and training friends. They all made my experience in this sport memorable and taught me lifelong lessons that I will cherish forever.
So, what is it? New visions and new dreams. I already have a to-do list with things that I wanted to start checking off. I want to start a wellness program for young figure skaters. To teach them proper nutrition and proper training habits, so they can thrive and enjoy a long and healthy journey through figure skating. I want to go to India and study yoga, and eventually open up my own yoga studio. I want to have a family, my own kids and adopt kids. I want to save more animals and create an animal sanctuary. I want to coach and share my passion for skating. I want to work as a technical specialist and in the future work with the ISU. I want to run marathons and I want to compete at the Adult World Championships one day. And I want to enjoy pushing myself and challenging myself through show skating. I think this to-do list will last me quite some time! And I look forward to working towards each project with the same dedication, determination and discipline as I did as a competitive figure skater.
It’s important to love what you do. If you love what you are doing, nothing feels like work. And it’s always easy to wake up feeling excited about the challenges that lay ahead. I have loved what I did for 25 years, and I am certain I am going to love what the future has in store for me.
I hope everyone out there can find something exciting to work towards. Something that lights a fire within you and something that you believe strongly in. When you find it, hold on tight and never give up!