Revisiting the Dream

The sound of the gun triggered the emotion I have been expecting since arriving in Salt Lake City, sight of the Winter Olympic Games, eleven short months ago. At the rink this morning we did our final preparations for the Continental Championships this weekend. It’s Canada vs. the USA as we are the only two countries here vying for the spots our continent has for the World All-Around Championships in Sweden in two weeks.

As we did our pre-race efforts the starters practiced their routines on the side of the ice. The first BANG brought me back to those two days in February when I realized my dream of representing Canada at the Olympic Games on skates, on ice; in the sport I hold so close to my heart.

I remembered being on the line, nervous yet ready to skate faster than I had ever in my life. The sound of that gun allowed me out of the gates to give the effort I had visualized for so long, prepared for in my brain and through my body for hundreds of hours. It signaled the freedom I was granted to go beyond what I ever thought possible. It was a sound exclusive to the Games of Salt Lake City, muffled yet distinct. It was so good to hear that sound again.

I sit and smile remembering the multitude of moments equaling my ‘Olympic experience’ and wonder what it is like for those who see darkness instead of light. For the athletes who left disappointed, thinking they could have done more, feeling like failures. It saddens me knowing there are athletes who base so much of themselves on what their results are: how fast they can skate in circles; what speed they can generate on their bicycles. It reminds me of why I do sport- urges me to love what I do and never for a moment lose perspective on why I do it.

I think of this weekend and look at the opportunities, which lay ahead- the chance to go beyond the past and embrace the present. For those who feel bitter on hearing the sounds that make me smile, I hope they can see what this incredible opportunity is.

For me it is not the time to relive memories on the ice- when I race it is a chance to do it better than I have in the past. Before leaving Calgary I watched the 5000 m Olympic race to remind myself of the pain- to see the struggle and know the courage necessary to do it the only way I know- at 100%. I also saw the Olympic Champion, Claudia Pechtein, mesmerized by her world record skate. I saw how I skated just under a year ago, realizing that I have improved so much technically and feel so confident I could fly. It is not possible without the effort resulting in the pain. It’s what I live for, that challenge, and I can’t wait to race!!!