“Sell it!” said my coach Peter Biver. “Then maybe the judges won’t notice if a jump [or two] is slightly under rotated.”
In the dressing room I avoided the friends I had made at camp last summer. “Talk to you later,” I promised. I found an isolated corner at the end of a corridor between rink two and rink three where I could stretch, do some jump exercises, listen to my music and visualize my program.
“Stay calm! Stay focused!” I reminded myself. Peter was there to tell me to breathe deeply.
Waiting in the corridor outside the rink, I recognized the wild cackle of my one-year-old grandson, Alex. When I entered the arena ready to go on for my warm up, his sister Bella began to squeal, “Grammie! Grammie! It’s Grammie’s turn!” I was not skating to please the judges, but a certain three-year-old, her mother, grandfather and great grandmother Claudia. (Alex loves music, but I don’t think he had the faintest idea what was going on.)
My program is to the theme from Out of Africa—suitable, I think, after fifteen years on the continent. I stayed calm, enjoyed the moment and landed all my jumps on one foot. Goal accomplished!
We waited a long time for results. In the new judging system, used by upper-level competitors, they announce scores right away, so you know immediately where skaters stand. But the old six point O system is still used on the lower levels. That meant the judges had to see all seventeen Bronze Ladies IV competitors before they could rank them.
The kids were getting antsy. “You may as well go on home,” I suggested.
“But call us if you get an award,” Katie insisted. “We’ll come right back.”
When the results went up, people crowded around the typed sheet taped to the window. This may be an adult competition, but they were thinking of eighteen-year-olds when they chose the font size. I wasn’t close enough to see.
“Congratulations!” Peter said. “You’re third.”
Third? I had thought I might have a slim chance at forth, but third? Fortunately, the family was still in the parking lot. (Mothers of small children know how long it takes to get everyone buckled in.) They came back to cheer at my awards ceremony.
Fighting panic the day before the competition I knew I had to do this once. After all, my character Ben will compete on a national and international level if I write sequels to Crossovers. “But you don’t ever have to compete again if you don’t want to,” I told myself. An hour after it was over I was ready to sign up for next year...