Skating on Thin Ice

Skating on “thin” ice


Was it gymnastics? No. Was it going to be ballet? No. My “Sunday” Dad would introduce me to tennis and basketball, but it did not catch on. With an athletic family, there must be something I would excel in. One day, my mom took me to the ice skating rink. She struck gold when she bought me a pair of pricey ice skates. It was a huge sacrifice for her due to her extremely limited income. My father would support this sport for me, but with much contention. He made it difficult for me to thoroughly enjoy it because I was reminded often of how costly my chosen sport had become.

My skates would adorn my cold feet as they came to bed with me every night. Of course, the rubber guards covered the sharp blades at all times or else mom would have banned this habit. I could put out an eye! (or a toe!) The morning sun would shine through my white wooden shutters and up I would rise to a new day of gliding through the house.


It was the day of my lesson with coach Jim and how I panted with excitement to attempt that darn axel jump. The lay back/sit/camel spins were the most exhilarating, but how I longed to land that axel with precision and ease. “If you don’t fall and get scraped up, you are not trying!”, I would hear over and over. The warmth of my leg “sweaters” would cuddle my legs and the hope of Dad or Mom watching from above would coddle my soul. I hoped they would eye my grace, but often that was not the case. I was usually floundering on the ice to make it through a day’s lesson and I would watch all my “competition” look perfect.  I’d exit the ice and grab a hot chocolate out of the vending machine to rest my weary body, but “no rest for the weary” would play in my head as I savored every drop only to go back and try again.


It was time to prepare for the ISIA competition to be held in Phoenix. If I could earn a medal in this event, Dad would perhaps let me go to California to compete in a larger event. The day was approaching and I found that all the other girls were adorning their tiny skater bodies with expensive, ornate costumes. I so wanted to fit in to the “look” of the hip skaters. I also wished I could afford the fancier, more durable skates. I was never to complain. My dear mother took her precious hard earned income and created an emerald green sequenced butterfly to be sewn on my basic green skating dress. It was beautifully made and from the heart. No, it did not fit the “look” of the rest of the girls, but I appreciated it immensely. My dad was too busy to come for the big day, but I did have my mom and grandparents there. My coach also watched with pride and expectation. The cameras were ready and music began to play. It was just me; alone on the ice with not a movement or sound to be found. Before I knew it, I had completed my program. No knees were scraped and no falling took place. I heard on the announcements, “And…the Gold medal goes to…..Stephanie Scharf!!.” I did it! My first front of all those peering eyes!!


Now it was time to head into the room for pictures. I knew that this was a moment to be proud. I think, however, my mom was more proud than me. When I first started out, it was pure enjoyment. However, sometimes I felt like I was doing this to be perfect and accomplish something great for her. But I digress. I now can laugh at my stickly figure which was two long legs butting out from my chest. My waist was non-existent as I resembled a beanpole adorned in a teeny green dress and poofy, little belly. Those pictures will always make me laugh and also to be proud. Oh Boy! Orange I come!


The part that makes me cry pierces my heart to the core. From the day I started, it was always brought to my attention how expensive my chosen sport had become. My father, who contributed to this endeavor never let me forget how hard it was for him to keep it up financially. Everything cost money. On Sundays, the only days I saw him, he would take me to the rink and watch me for a few minutes. Then he would leave and come pick me up later. He never had time to come to competitions, but I did know he was proud of me. I think I skated my heart out to please him, but I could never do enough. I also could never get



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