My first day as a Level 5 Adult figure skater – Backward Crossovers are an even crueler death.


I know the kids in my class are plotting this.

Excitement level: Through the roof
Rink temperature: Glacial
Number of falls: Surprisingly few

I was so excited to graduate to Level 5 I could barely contain myself. There are eight beginner levels, and I am now officially closer to being a real figure skater than I am to being a living joke on two blades of metal.

I spoke too soon though, because the instructor tells us we are now going to learn backward crossovers. Oh, I think not. I’ve been down the crossover road before, and it ended with a lot of sprained wrists, bruises and a devastatingly low sense of self worth.

I pretend to re-lace my skate while I watch my classmates take tumble after backwards tumble. The kids in this class appear to be slightly older, maybe nine or ten, but they continue the great tradition of staring at me like I am the Swamp Monster from whatever cartoon kids watch these days. (Do kids still watch cartoons?)

One of the boy students is a hockey player and with his pads and gear on, I can somewhat hide behind him. He falls as often as I do, so I try to jump up quickly and then stare down at him while he’s still on the ice. I think this makes it look like he’s the only one who fell.

I can’t help but to notice that I really am getting better. Not at the skating, but at the falling-and-getting-up-so-quickly-no one-sees part. That’s a marketable life skill. I can use that anywhere – the office, the grocery store, you name it. “Oh my god! Did you just fall down the stairs?” “What are you talking about? I’m standing right here in front of you. How can both those things be true?”

I think it’s probably time to make peace with something I have figured out about my new sport. Mastering a skill on the ice will usually involve falling on the ice. If I want to keep learning, I’m going to keep falling.

But I’m falling at a Level 5 now. Let’s not forget that.

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