What a Difference a Year Makes

Two years ago I hadn’t had skates on my feet for seven years. Two years ago I was lamenting the fact that I had never left this part of the world, having only ever traveled around Australia and one time to Christchurch, New Zealand. Two years ago, I was so desperate to see the world, I made a Pinterest board of places I wanted to see, but just figured that it would be a very long time before I could make my wanderlusting dreams a reality.

10308353_10205372266481552_749678670844935711_nOne year ago I was a  few weeks away from boarding a plane to Spain, to embark on my second overseas adventure in the last twelve months. Twelve short months and I went from complete skating retirement to being on the Australian Team and headed to compete at the World Championships alongside my team mates in Platinum.

Twelve months later and here I am, two sleeps out from traveling to Cali, Colombia. But the last twelve months haven’t been easy. The Road to Cali was shoddily paved and full of bumps and potholes.

The first blow came when we lost four members of our 2014 team, bringing us down to six. Two more members joined, but one left only weeks later due to her own circumstances and the other we knew was only going to be with us until Nationals. Thankfully we managed to rope Evie back into the team after she adamantly told us she wasn’t going to be able to do it. HAHA sucked in Evie, you love it.

The second blow didn’t just hit us, but the entire skating community. The news of Steve Bowman’s terminal cancer. Steve was a skater, a coach, and most recently a beloved official, and all around awesome man. Skaters from all across the country dedicated their every skate to Steve and not too long before the National Championships in July, Steve passed away. At Nationals we skated for Steve. But when it rains, it pours.

Nationals. It was a very dramatic time for everyone. People had their own things going on, there was a lot of stress. But the night after we skated show, we were taken to the dressing room by our coach. We thought she was just going to be talking about the small controversy we had (you had to be there) but instead she informed us tearfully, that Bob Kersten, the owner of our clubs rink and another amazing man loved by us all, had passed away. We’d only known he’d  been sick for a few weeks and even then a lot of us didn’t know the extent. We were of course, devastated. Nationals was a blur. It had it’s highs, but unfortunately it also had some very dark lows.

At the end of Nationals, we had to make the decision, do we go to Cali? We’d been selected, but after all that had happened, would we be able to pull it together and get things in check to head to Worlds. Last year we killed it at worlds. Scored well and ranked well. We didn’t want to go and go backwards. We knew that one of our girls was leaving us after Nationals already, but with the addition of Robert, who traitorously left us at the beginning of the year returning, we were back to eight.

We hit training hard. Our program got a complete overhaul and went from zero to a hundred. We were determined to make sure that the year of drama had a happy ending in Cali.

Then, it happened, just a few weeks ago. I was at work, casually having my lunch when I checked my phone. A messaged had been posted to Platinum’s Facebook group from our coach Esther. Our friend and teammate Kat had had a fall at training the night before and had broken her ankle in three places. The news rocked us all. We were absolutely shattered for Kat, who not only was skating with us, but was due to compete in Senior Solo Dance. We were back at seven skaters. Could we even do this? Three weeks from leaving and we’ve lost an amazing member of the team. It was the Saturday night of that week that we were informed by Esther that she was going to be strapping her skates on and not just going to Cali as our coach, but she would be skating with us.

In all this drama, we also were informed that our amazing coach Nicole was going to be leaving us at the end of the year and wouldn’t be coming to Cali with us. This was going to be Platinum’s last hurrah.

That brings us to tonight. Esther and Robert are over there already as Robert is skating Junior Freeskating, the rest of us had our last training sessions this week. And now two sleeps.

Amidst the drama of Nationals, I turned to my friend and teammate Amy and said, “maybe I’m naive, but I just want this crappy year to have a happy ending”. I still hold to that. We’ve worked hard, our routine is ready, and so are we.

This World Championships, we skate for Steve, who the skating world loves and misses.

This World Championships, we skate for Bob, who’s face we miss at the rink every day.

This World Championships, we skate for Kat, who we wish was with us, instead of working on getting herself better and stronger.

This World Championships, we skate for Nicole, who has got us this far and who we wish was going to be coming with us.

This World Championships, we skate for ourselves, because we’ve worked hard.

I know today’s post was kind of a somber one. I didn’t do too much today, so I had some time to reflect. Two sleeps to go. Let’s do this.

Ally x

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