"How can they DO this to us? It just isn't fair!
It's not what we were expecting."
Well, 2020 wasn't what we we were expecting. Remember when we wished 2019 would just go away? I don't know about you, but 2019 is looking pretty darn good right now.
I didn't really have an answer for this mom, other than to tell her that unprecedented times call for unexpected changes. Trite, I know, but it was the best I could do on short notice and being put on the spot.
What I wanted to say to her, I'll say to all of you. Skating is a sport. Full stop. The fact that any skaters at all are getting back on the ice in the midst of a disease that has been ravaging people in countries around the world is kind of a flipping, lutzing, miracle. If you get any semblance of a truncated season, consider yourself one of the lucky few.
2020 obviously hasn't come with a book of instructions. The pages are being written - and rewritten - nearly by the hour as things continue to evolve. There are no norms. There is no normal. It's a "Lewis and Clark" moment where every step is being mapped for the first time, in real time.
The other side is that there are groups of people in our skating world who are working their axels off to make something - anything - happen in order to salvage something looking like a season. From the local clubs to our national governing body to even the ISU, no idea is off the table, as long as it first takes into account the health and safety of everyone involved, from skaters and their families to coaches, officials and - yes - fans. Unlike other times in our sport's history, right now the wheel is not being recreated, it's been thrown out the window.
I am not privy to any insider competition information. I'm just sitting here in front of my computer trying to make sense of it all. What I do know is that I've seen the fierce dedication of coaches and choreographers who have been finding new ways to keep skaters enthusiastic and engaged through on line classes via Zoom. What I do know is that the Peggy Fleming Trophy competition in June may have been that invaluable "scout" for our expedition into the unknown. Also, what I know because of my involvement with my husband's new podcast venture, is that musicians are exploring new platforms with no signal delay so that they can gather together virtually and play together in real time. All kinds of new technology is being tested daily; some of it may even be applicable to having competitions in real time. Logistically, it would be incredibly challenging from an organizational and technical standpoint - and fraught with possible pitfalls - but it is doable. As we've said in this household for an entire skating career, "Anything is possible. Pigs Can Fly."
The most important thing you can do right now is to be patient. You probably have a lot of things to worry about that are infinitely more important. If your kid is able to be on the ice and have some sense of "normal," be grateful. If you're an adult skater and back on the ice, you're already grateful. I know; I see your posts on Facebook and Instagram.
Most of all, try to keep perspective. Nothing can truly replace being there live and in person for a competition, but that may be our virtual reality this season. We simply don't know.
As one of my favorite bosses told me years ago, "You can't hold back the ocean."