“Sometimes you have to plastic wrap your boobs because you can’t wear a bra with most costumes — some people even duct tape them.”
The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics are underway, and if you're anything like us, then you're probably glued to your TV intently watching all the incredible figure skating rockstars compete for gold. So for our own sake, and the sake of everyone who shares our love of the sport, we decided to get an inside look at all things skating. Thank you to the five skaters who gave us an inside look into what it's really like to compete at this level.
To be competitive, you have to start skating REALLY young.
We're talking like 5 to 7 years old.
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There are actual tests you have to pass in order to get to the next ~level~ of figure skating.
You usually start at the pre-preliminary level and go all the way up to senior level — you have to be at certain levels in order to participate in specific training sessions. Each test — there are jumps tests, spins tests, moves tests, and dance tests — is done in front of judges, and if you don't pass you have to retake it until you do.
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You train just as much off the ice as you do on the ice.
You have to do A LOT of intense plyometrics — to get more strength for higher jumps — and dance training, on top of your ice moves practice.
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Skating feels more natural and comfortable to us than things like running, biking, or swimming.
Your blades basically become an extension of your body.
And twisting and turning when you’re in midair feels completely normal.
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Sometimes we’ll hear songs and choreograph routines to them in our heads.
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Most of us prefer winter to summer.
We’ll take an ice-cold rink over some sand volleyball any day.
Despite popular belief, skating is a brutal sport, and we constantly have cuts, blisters, and bruises to show off.
Your costume is an integral part of your performance and you WILL be judged on it.
We even sew wigs into our hair when our costume calls for it.
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You’re not allowed to wear fringes or sequins, but rhinestones are fair game.
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And sometimes you have to plastic wrap your boobs because you can’t wear a bra with most costumes — some skaters even duct tape them.
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Hitting the ice really freakin’ hurts.
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But in general, we’re not scared of falling — it happens literally all the time.
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The fear of failing during a competition, on the other hand, can be crippling.
You train every day and work so hard for years and years and make all these sacrifices — waking up so early, strength training, ballet, back-to-back programs, summer camps — to master these jumps and get stronger and faster. And then the outcome of all that training is one performance and the pressure to be perfect is insane, and if you aren't perfect you feel like a failure.
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And so can the pressure to look a certain way or be a specific body size.
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You have to give every single move and jump all of your strength and energy if you want to land it, and there can’t be any hesitation.
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Nothing is worse than breaking in a new pair of skates.
You always end up covered in blisters and that makes it hard to land any of your jumps. Your skates just feel wrong and stiff and uncomfortable.
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Or awkwardly trying to skate after getting your blades sharpened.
You have to get them sharpened because once they get too dull it'll really affect your performance. But when you do your balance is always thrown off for a few days.
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Judges are definitely biased and therefore the whole scoring system is flawed.
Read BuzzFeed News' investigation into top-level figure skating judges to learn more.
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You have to be strong AF to be a figure skater, and we love how muscular we are.
How else would we pull off the moves and jumps in our routine? Our legs and ankles will always be strong, which is nice and helpful with a lot of weird sports like mountain biking and skiing.
And all the tests and competitions leave you with pretty thick skin.
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Toe picks can seriously get the best of you.
One second you're gliding, and the next you're eating a whole lot of ice.
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Many of us love to dance on the side — it actually helps make us better figure skaters.
Figure skating is like a big combo of skating, gymnastics, and dance.
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Yes, most of us are perfectionists and overachievers, and probably the most competitive people you’ll meet.
We'll always be our toughest critics. No doubt about it.
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Sometimes you have to wake up at ungodly hours so you can get to the freezing cold rink for early morning trainings before school.
Getting up at 4 a.m. every morning to get to the rink at 5 a.m. can be miserable. So miserable. And it's cold — I don't think anyone ever really gets over that. Sometimes these training sessions can last around three hours. Then you have to shower and get ready for school!
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And it’s not fun showering after practice and feeling your toes throb and turn bright red as they thaw.
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Sometimes it feels like you’re missing out on life because all you do is train.
Seriously, there is no off season.
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But as tough as it is, you love figure skating. And it’s so hard to eventually leave behind.
Because no matter how many years you skate, you NEVER get over the amazing feeling of being out on the ice.
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Keep on keeping on, ice queens!
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