Photo provided by Caitlin Miller

Overcoming obstacles on the ice

Junior Caitlin Miller reflects on breaking her arm and getting back to the sport she loves.

May 18, 2017

A moment cannot define you, but it can have a big influence on the way you look at things.  Everyone’s experienced, or will experience, a bump in the road every now and then, and it may have a huge impact or leave you without a scratch.

This year I had the unfortunate burden of breaking my wrist after reaching a long awaited goal at skating. All of the work I put into landing jumps, centering spins and letting my heart out onto the ice was gone.

Figure skating is a big part of my life. I grew up watching my older brother playing rough hockey, but I wanted to be a graceful figure skater. Something about the sparkles drew my little blue eyes in.

My family has ice in our blood. My dad played hockey and my mom was a figure skater. It goes as far back as great grandfathers, uncles and cousins. All of us are born with an undeniable love for the ice.

Starting as a tot in a learn-to-skate class I was excited and ready to jump and spin, but little did I know there’s more to it.  Edges, footwork, falling and balance. I found this to be boring and was more into dancing, all kinds, ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop…you name it and I was there.

When I got back into skating in fifth grade I regretted the choice I had made to stop. All I can think about is gliding onto flooded ice ready to warm up. The cold brisk feeling when the air touches your cheeks. I live for it.

I’ve fallen many times before, and it’s a normal thing to do in my daily skating life. Normally walking out of my practices, legs are sore, face is bright red and pants are wet from falling on jumps.

I’ve been working on one specific jump for a year and a half, the axel, a one and a half rotation jump. I finally reached my goal and landed it, and I’ve had it clean for five months now, landing it in and out of performances. I was finally ready to move onto doubles. Working on these felt like flying.

Skating four days a week, two hours each day, including off ice practices, all of the skaters at the rink put in work to make our skating perfect. Like I had said, falling makes its daily appointments with each of us, but this fall was different.

A normal Wednesday at my 4:05 p.m. session, I warmed up and had done my axel perfectly at least five times before doing it with my music. Competition season is just starting and I could feel it: this was my season. The start of my music blared through the speakers. I started executing my jumps and using emotions, just as I was taught.

Landing the first axel, the second one was supposed to be a breeze. I stepped into it springing off the ice, landing twisted, my blade slipped and I landed directly onto my left wrist, hearing a crack as I hit the ice.

All of this is a blur, my thoughts contained by the shock of what happened, my eyes wet with tears and my coaches trying to calm me down. My skates were being taken off and I was still crying in unbelievable pain, I’ve never felt anything this bad. At this point, not being able to move my fingers, I knew it was broken.

In the emergency room the pain was awful, but my heart was broken knowing I would be unable to skate in the upcoming competitions. Non-stop crying, my mom tried to comfort me, but it didn’t work. No skating is a nightmare. Of course at times I’ve said I was going to stop, but it’s always been a lie.

Having reached my goal, ready to compete with a new jump, but falling on something I know I can do and having it disappear right in front of my eyes. It’s like taking candy from a baby, evil and unnecessary.  

Although this is a setback and upsets me completely, I know it’s not forever, I know that i’m strong enough to overcome the time that i’m not allowed to skate. Sure it’ll be hard and I hate it most of the time, but I know I can get back on the ice and reach my new goals in no time.  Other people have got it worse, and this little set back can’t take me away from the ice.


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