Wednesday, July 16, 2014

That's What Friends are For: A Cyber Lovefest

Totally unsolicited comment from a friend of mine while we were enjoying a short lunch break the other day: "You're not REALLY going to stop blogging, are you?"

My answer was direct: "No."

Now, this friend is one who is involved in skating but is not someone who follows me on any other form of social media (at least that I know of). I have to admit, I was flattered. I've been at this since 2009 and, as you all know by now, I don't monetize my blog. My intention has always been to have it as a journal - or an open diary, if you like. I've invited you all to see my world. 

However, that started me thinking about the people on social media I admire. There are many, but four are my key "Go-To" people, not only because of their great love of figure skating, their voluminous knowledge about the sport and their passion at preserving it, but because over the years they have become great friends. I have to admit, too, that two of the four I have NEVER met in person. I know that may seem strange, but our world is small. Sometimes just trusting, respecting and eventually confiding in them is what makes friends into family.

First, there is my namesake counterpart.

Allison Manley has one of the most intelligent podcasts around. ManleyWoman Skatecast has been on the scene for awhile. As an adult competitive skater, mother of two, web wizard and incredibly intelligent all-around person, Allison and I have become close friends and confidants. If you are not familiar with her work, and if you are a true fan of skating, do yourself a HUGE favor and listen to her wonderful interviews. I was honored to be one of her early subjects. She has gone way beyond the "skate mom" interviews since then, including some of the truly GREATS in our sport.

Next is a former skater, current coach and choreographer, on-beyond prolific Tweeter and one of the most respected voices in skating, Doug Mattis. We first met in San Jose. Since then, we have been cohorts in so many wonderful causes, including Nick and Tricia LaRoche's fundraising event "An Evening on Ice," the powerful and important "Skate for Hope," and support of Audrey Weisiger's "Young Artists' Showcase" where some of the top amateur and young professional skaters show off their incredible choreographic talents in an annual, web-based competition. If you don't follow him on Twitter - DO! @DougMattis is the place to be.

Speaking of Audrey, this is a woman who has my total respect. Noted as an iconic coach, Audrey Weisiger has taken her knowledge and brought new hope into what has been called the  "dying swan" sport of skating. Never deterred by outside voices, Audrey has built her Grassroots to Champions and Young Artists' Showcase into the voice of skating where the "art and sport" become one in an understandable and unexpected way. I have had many chances to actually meet Audrey in person. I cannot believe it has not happened. I've been interviewed by her and I have even been a guest judge for YAS. But we have never met face-to-face. Perhaps this year, Audrey.

Finally, I have one friend whom I have never met but whose writing is thoughtful, intelligent, well-researched and passionate. Ryan Stevens was a competitor for Canada, a former female impersonator (check out this incredible interview by another favorite blogger/podcaster of mine, PJ Kwong) and probably one of the best chroniclers of skating history - present and past - out in the bloggisphere today. I'm not quite sure how I "met" Ryan, since we have never had the pleasure of being in the company of one another - but I can tell you we are truly kindred souls. Ryan's blog "Is That a Skate Guard in Your Pocket or are You Happy to See Me," has become a bible, of sorts, for skating interviews with an edge, as well as a research source for those who really want to know some of the lesser-known facts of our sport.

Four friends. Two I know in person; two I have never met personally. All four of whom have not only influenced my life publicly and privately, but who have been my cheerleaders over the past five years.

In a way, I guess this is a public "Thank You" card. If it were not for the four of you, I probably would not have had that friend at lunch the other day ask me if I was going to end my blog. 

Yes, Virginia, we can still believe there is a Santa Claus. Life on the Edge continues...whether I want it to or not. 
As the saying goes, "It is what it is."   


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