Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mine Your Own Business

Leading off "Life on the Outside Edge of Skating" is a short dissertation on miners:

Conventional mining usually takes place underground and is done for personal gain, not for the love of digging a hole. Armed with shovels, pickaxes and a firm belief that they will strike the "Mother Lode," miners set a goal, stake their claim, figure out a path and then start to excavate. If they are young and inexperienced, their digs are unsophisticated and amateurish. It takes years to hone the proper skills.

Smart new recruits observe the more proficient practitioners. They take mental notes; they make preliminary tests to see where the ground may be softest and they can have the most success in the shortest period of time. They save playing with explosives until they feel well prepared.

 So, what does this have to do with skating? Think about it for a moment. It should be quite obvious.

The next time you are at the rink, at a competition, on Twitter, Facebook, a fan board or just being a casual observer in the stands, see if you can identify the miners. Some of them are very obvious with their psychological shovels and verbal axes; some of them are a bit more difficult to identify, but usually they are digging a hole somewhere and trying to cover it up along the way.
Being a miner is a dirty business.


But sometimes, when they least expect it, the roof caves in - or something blows up in their face. Best rule to always remember: Keep your distance so you can experience this.. 
 

 
 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I'm Back..



You didn't think I could stay away, did you? I know it's been a long break since I said I was ending Life on the Edge of Skating, but apparently I've moved from an inside edge to an outside one - not with the grace of an accomplished athlete, but with all the falls and scratches that come with learning a new skill. I think I need a helmet and butt pads.




After Nationals, I was done. I was sick and tired of skating. My emotional tank was on empty and I was in need of a tow truck to come drag me away. I had become jaded. Personal circumstances for the family had overwhelmed us all and that was that. I walked away feeling as if there was no period at the end of this very long 25 year sentence; someone had just locked me up and thrown away the key.


I stayed away from virtually all aspects of skating. I did watch some of Four Continents because it was being broadcast at a time that worked well with my morning coffee. I had too many other things going on in real life with family and health to really care much about the synthetic drama being played out on the tiny screen of my tablet.

It wasn't until I got hooked into watching World Junior competition that I realized there was hope for me to make a comeback. This was an incredible display of athleticism and artistry on ice. I was impressed with the sheer talent I had not seen because my view had become myopic. It made me reassess.

Now that we are on the cusp of Worlds, I'm looking at what I might have to offer readers and lovers of skating. I'm wondering if there is any perspective that might be useful. I'm not totally sure, but what the heck. I'm going to give it my best shot. I'll watch Worlds  - not for the skating and the placements, but for what most people don't see. There are many pundits and pontificators out there who will happily fill you in while giving you their perspectives on why it is good or bad. Of course, they're not out there doing it. I'm going to be looking at what most do not notice and seeing if I can share a new view from outside the edge. You may like it; you may not. What I hope to accomplish by this approach is to get you to be observers of the big picture. As always, I hope to do this with humor, and now with a slightly sharper edge from outside the curve.




Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thanks for the Memories..And So It Goes

Rewind to August 18, 2009:
"Welcome to "Life on the Edge," a place we have lived for more than 20 years of being figure skating parents.

By way of background, we are both professional communicators. We have spent our lives either reporting or promoting other people's lives. We have been observers and chroniclers; we have been students of many aspects of life - particularly the peculiar life of figure skating. What started as an avocation has become a vocation. What started as a diversion has gone through obsession and into observation.

We are on the final pages of the biography our skater has written during his competitive adventure. But we are just beginning to write our autobiography - where we have been, what it has taken and what roads we have yet discover as we reach the denouement.

Warning: Unless you have a crystal ball, do not attempt to write the ending. Like us, just sit back and enjoy the ride, and hopefully the writing."

January 27, 2015:
That was 207 blog posts ago. That was nearly six years ago. The "final pages" now read more like 27 volumes of the encyclopedia of skating.

If I had a crystal ball, I would not have predicted the end quite like this. Certainly, we have had more than a fair share of comedy and drama. We've had cornucopia of life experiences that played out very publically, and also extremely privately.

Through my blog - which truly has been more of a journal of our journey - I hope I have given you a different perspective of competitive figure skating. If you are an observer or a fan, my wish is that you now know more about what it is like to be a skating parent. If you are a parent, I hope you found some universal truths in my musings. If you are a coach, I hope you understand parents better through what I've written; that you  learn to respect us - and that we, in turn, learn to respect you. We both have to earn that, you know. It is not a right just because we are who we are.

So, as abruptly as I began, I now end. My E Tickets are retired. My washing machine life goes from whatever "normal" is to a new setting. Life on the Edge of Skating has been a ride. We can only wait to see what's next. Thank you for joining me on this wild and wonderful ride. I'll see you soon, though. I'm not just sure how or when, but I'll let you know right here, and on Twitter, too. I promise.

Allison Scott





Thursday, January 1, 2015

A NEW RELATIONSHIP



Dear 2015,
I know we just met late last night, but somehow I find myself attracted to you. I hope this isn't too forward of me; after all, it's only been a few hours. I'm going to take my chances, though, and let you know how I feel. If this ends up unrequited, so be it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The first time I saw you, it was from a distance. Surrounded by people in Times Square, you were resplendent. All eyes were focused on you, including mine. I was tired. My last relationship - the one with 2014 - was exhausting. On so many levels it was fulfilling, but somehow incomplete. Seeing how many bright faces were focused on you last night, I thought to myself, "Self: Maybe it's time to let go of the past and look for something new. You learned a lot from 2014. He was a tough taskmaster. But there's something fresh and exciting with this new 2015. Give it a shot."

Change is always difficult, 2015. For those last few seconds before you dropped into people's lives, including mine, I was reluctant to let go. Clinging to what's familiar is always easier than taking a deep breath, opening an unfamiliar door and walking in. There's comfort in what you know. But, familiarity can breed complacency. There was nothing more 2014 could offer our relationship. Looking at those millions in Times Square who were celebrating your arrival, I felt perhaps they knew something I didn't.

My loyalty to 2014 made me turn away. I thought to myself, "Self: You invested so much into this relationship. Is it fair to be so fickle and give it up so quickly in favor of a handsome new face? You don't know this 2015. No one does. You might want to think about this."

So, I thought. I remembered. I laughed. I cried a bit.

The next time I saw you was about an hour later. You'd left your fans in New York reveling in the streets and rife with anticipation. They were filled with the promises you hadn't yet made. They were ready to march with you without question. You were on the move and I was drawn to follow, but somehow you'd disappeared from view. I found myself feeling uncomfortable and anxious. You didn't even know me and you'd abandoned me. I was going to  be stuck with 2014 for another year. I started to panic. I couldn't face 2014 again. I wanted to move on.

At that precise moment, exactly an hour after first witnessing your arrival, a text message appeared on my phone. 
"Happy New Year!"
The number wasn't familiar. 
"Happy New Year to you. Who is this?"
For a moment, there was no reply.
"I'm just a friend. 2015 will be spectacular. I wanted to share that with you."
 "Thank you, whoever you are. I hope you're right."
The text fell silent. Once again, I was alone and in search of you. Now, I was more than curious. I was intrigued. I had to find you; I needed to know more.

Exhaustion overtook me. I must have fallen asleep. The next thing I knew, it was nearly an hour later. My door flew open. A frigid breeze blew into the living room. Outside, the Christmas lights in my courtyard created back lighting; a mystical halo effect that seemed both ethereal and somewhat surreal. Was I dreaming? Could it be you?

The clock struck Midnight. In the distance was the sound of fireworks. Two glasses were raised. A kiss was exchanged. 

You may call me fickle. Maybe I am. But I've lived life on the edge for so many years, taking on this new relationship seems normal, somehow. Let's walk together for about 365 days and see how it goes. I won't make any promises. I know you won't either. It's all about the journey, really. We'll find the destination soon enough.
With Love,
Allison 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dream On



I’ve been off line for a number of reasons – almost too many to recount and none of which are relevant to you, except the fact that my home computer (Big Bertha) has crashed the motherboard so I’ve been a bit of a rudderless ship since October’s last post. To the people who do care, thank you for your notes and comments.

I’ve also had writer’s block. Some of this is due to the stress of the holidays; some due to my computer failing and not being able to blog effectively from my much-loved tablet. Also, there just hasn’t been a lot to say lately. In my mind, I was fully expecting to start my newest blog – you know the one where I could finally tuck away Erma and unleash Anthony? I was really prepared. I’d been sitting and thinking for months (actually, for years) about what to say.



However, that was not to be, at least not yet. With yet-another season to go, and having to shelve so many unexplored topics, this new situation of "Last Season: Part Deux" has found me continually coming up empty on new, appropriate (aka: PC) subject matter. 
I even stopped dreaming about skating. I didn't take that to be a bad thing, actually. The worst part about it was that skating was replaced with night frights concerning work and other non-skating-related topics. Nothing frozen even entered my nightly subconsciousness until last week when tickets were purchased, hotel reservations were made and flights were booked to Greensboro.

Understand that my dreams have rarely been about competition – at least not about events my skater is doing. They usually involve some form of me skating somewhere - usually outdoors, which is my favorite thing in the world to do. But the last two weeks have been decidedly different.


It all began again with a dream involving a very large arena that somehow morphed into a cruise ship. It had something to do with people who had taken my seats and refused to move. While we were arguing, things shifted and suddenly everyone was skating at half time of the Super Bowl in the middle of the field. (Don’t ask.) 


The next one had to do with skating in Russia and being an official at a competition where the federation began removing the boards and turning off the lights before the events were complete, leaving the last skaters totally in the dark to finish their event. 

That was followed by a dream about a show at our old rink in Aspen that somehow combined with a test session and a hockey game, all at the same time. 

Last night, however, was one of the most wondrous dreams I have ever had. I was outside in the mountains. There was a glistening lake that seemed to go on for miles. It was beautiful. I donned my skates and glided across the vast landscape. I visited with famous skating friends along the way, all of whom were reveling in the extraordinary beauty of the moment.

 Isn't that what skating is really all about? It's the beauty of the moment that captures our minds and imaginations. 

So, I'm putting Anthony away for awhile longer and in favor of all the wonderful memories this sport holds for me - not just from the last 25 years of competitive skating, but for all the years I've truly loved it. 
Me at Rockefeller Plaza 1952
 And my wish for all of you in 2015 is, even if things are not what you imagined, that you never stop dreaming, too. Have a very Happy New Year.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Almost Famous

 I was shopping in a local discount store today (okay, it was Costco), when a couple approached me in the aisle where I was trying on biking gloves.
"Are you Allison Scott?" this very pleasant-looking lady asked with some trepidation.
Quizzically, I replied, "Yes.."
"I read your blog."
I was taken aback. Costco. Really? 
I've been a skating mom for 25 years. At this point in my somewhat storied career I (kind of) expect to be recognized by skating fans and parents in arenas, and in context. But in COSTCO?
I chatted with the woman and her husband for awhile. Their daughter is a pre-juv skater in the area - another family just starting on the E-Ticket roller coaster of competitive skating. They were so sweet, and I truly appreciated the recognition - particularly since I was very much out of the skating element standing amidst a pile of gloves. For a fleeting moment (actually, a half-second), I understood what my skater goes through on a regular basis - the incident in 
Saitama, Japan at Worlds came immediately to mind when he, and two other well-known skaters, decided they MUST have Starbucks before the exhibition and went into the food court below the rail station only to be absolutely mobbed by adoring fans. But me be recognized? No way!
Well...way.
I never really thought about being "almost famous," but in many ways being the mom of an elite skater, being a blogger and being a person whose job is being in the public eye, albeit in a totally different field, I guess it comes with the territory. 

Which brought back story I want to share.


I have been particularly blessed to have some great friends in the media. One of them is the former producer/director of ABC Wide World of Sports, years of numerous figure skating championships, now author and US Figure Skating Hall of Fame member Doug Wilson

I first officially met Doug during Skate America in Colorado Springs in 2001. I was less than a year into my new job and found myself hosting the entire broadcast crew, including Dick Button and Peggy Fleming, for dinner. Doug and I immediately hit it off. I come from a radio and TV background; my dad was a producer/director for CBS and NBC back in the day. Doug and I shared stories. We became friends. I even helped orchestrate a surprise birthday party for him a few years later at my place of work. He became, and still is, a treasured colleague and mentor.

But there was that time..2009 U.S. Nationals in Cleveland. 

My skater had won the junior title in Portland in 2005, missed Nationals by a place as his first year senior on the Olympic year of 2006, placed 4th at Nationals in 2007 and again in 2008. He had been the first U.S. man in 2009 to win the Grand Prix and expectations were sky-high. I alternated from being excited to wanting to throw up. I really wanted to just duck and cover. 
Yeah, right.
Understand that when a parent gets to the elite level, there is almost no such thing as hiding, unless you become one with the bathrooms in the arena. Our reactions during competition become almost as scrutinized as our skater's performances. We are watched like hawks. We are photographed, interviewed and our every facial nuance is scrutinized as cameras look for that all-important moment when a tear streams down our cheeks in either pride or disappointment. In a few short minutes, we become the public embodiment of all those years our skaters have worked to achieve this level of accomplishment. It's heady stuff.
So, here I am with my family. Here I am in Cleveland, and it is another year closer to the 2010 Olympics. And, here I am as the parent of the Grand Prix champion as he makes his bid for a first U.S. Men's Championship. Here I am having given my cell phone number to that wonderful colleague and mentor, Doug Wilson. Sitting in the stand at the Quicken Loans arena, my cell rings. It's a woman's voice. "I'm with ABC. Doug wants to know where you are sitting."
Trust me. As a nervous parent, these are not the words you want to hear. 
"I'm not exactly sure," (a weak response in retrospect). "We are in a corner but I can't see the numbers. I know I'm about half way up." 
"Okay, we'll find you." 
I disconnect the call. (Expletive deleted)
I'm thinking, "So, I didn't commit to my seat location. Maybe I'm safe."
I didn't think about the fact that, just before the start of the freeskate, a booming "GO ALEXANDER" would echo through the arena, giving our position away. Like a heat-seeking missile, our location was discovered. There was nowhere to hide. DRAT!

All's well that ends well, I suppose. Yes, Doug found us and chronicled our reaction to my son's first national championship. I survived the glare of media attention knowing that the next year, with Olympics at stake, it was only going to get more intense.
In order to deal with the pressure, I decided to record my experiences of then 20 years of being a skating parent. I'd lived life on the edge of skating for all that time, so why not recount some of my experiences along the way?
It's funny, really. Here I am 25 years into this sport; Regional competition is nearly complete and then Sectionals begin. It's been 10 years since we've participated in either one. Doug Wilson is still a great friend and inspiration. Now, one year to the day, I'm writing about him again. I thought I was going to be ending this blog and that Life On The Edge Of Skating would morph into something totally different as I left my self exile to the Lutz corner and took my "rightful" seat front row center to watch the next generation of skaters. 
Things happen for a reason. Today's encounter with new skating parents in an aisle at Costco made me realize there is a greater purpose in doing what I do. As we head into the 2015 season, I hope I can continue to educate, inform and along the way make people laugh. If that's my skating legacy, then living life on the edge has most certainly been worth it. And I'm okay with being Almost Famous.
"I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille." Let's roll. 






 


Friday, September 5, 2014

Something in the Water



Technically, it is still summer - at least that's what the calendar says. Here in Colorado, we're getting a taste of fall. Leaves are starting to take on a different hue; the grass is no longer growing like a Chia Pet. There is even a dusting of white stuff on top, and I'm not talking about my hair (I don't think). Life is slowly starting to go into hibernation...except in one place.

Yes, it's "THAT" place and "THAT" time. 
It's yet another season of Baubles, Bangles and Beads.Another season of planes, trains and automobiles - of hotel rooms and finding a nearby Starbucks. And another season (for some young parents and coaches) of Darth Vader Dads and Dragon Lady Moms.

For me? I guess it must be something in the water, but you know what? I'm still here. I'm paid up with Ice Network. I'm stalking Twitter for early season competition reports and videos. I'm applauding the young ones who are the next generation of excitement. I'm hoping they develop tough skins in this millenium of social media prophets and pundits, and that parents help them understand that success does not always come in gold; occasionally it is humbly but proudly displayed in black and blue. 

Now, in my 25th year, I'm mapping out "Final Season - Part Deux." It's somewhat of a curtain call, if you will, for this quarter-century skating mom who still loves our insane sport more than any other. What I'm finding this time around is:
  •  I'm not as frantic (though my son might disagree)
  • I'm not as fanatic (though my husband might disagree)
I'm simply resigned and I'm ready, though I won't deny that I was hoping this year to be writing like one of my writing alter egos - Anthony Bourdain - and speaking with "no reservations." Alas, however, I'm still working on my PC skills  for one more season as my other alter ego, dear Erma Bombeck, when all I'd really like to do is occasionally verbally (S)MAC(K) someone -only in the literary, and not literal, sense.
I'm not a cynic about our sport by any means. Coming into this year, the exciting part for me is that there's a whole new generation of skating parents out there I haven't met;  a lot of fresh-faced, young and enthusiastic skaters who will be the next generation of brilliant athlete/artists. With all great luck, good coaching - and a lot of dedication, hard work and passion - a privileged few will get to experience the thrill of representing our country at international competitions, Worlds and Olympics. 

However, there is no "Easy Button" to get there. Scotty can't beam you up. There is only a long, winding and often (pitch) forked road with lots of detours and potholes.

So, to those parents, and young coaches, and new followers of Life on the Edge of Skating, I offer up again a blog from 2010. It was far and away my most read blog. I suspect there was a good reason for that. If you just starting out, take time to read 
understanding that I am not a reporter, but more of a Yoda figure who has been there, done that for a very long time, and who wants parents to understand they are not alone in what they are experiencing, though - like snowflakes - each life, and each situation, is unique. 

For me? Here I sit. Nothing's changed, other than age, time... and just about everything else. It must be something in the water. That's the only explanation why I'm still here. 
I'm grateful for that.
Post Script:
Those of you who have followed me for a long time will understand the picture above.
The rest of you will learn, in your own way and in your own time, 
the art of making lemonade.