Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bay State Winter Games at Williams College and the Drama of Figure Skating

The 2011 Bay State Winter Games are now taking place at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts in the Berkshires.

Today is the last day of the three day figure skating competition.

We spent the entire day yesterday there since our daughter was competing in two events.

This year, not only were Massachusetts skaters invited to compete but also skaters from other New England states who do not host their own state games. There are about 450 who registered.

The weather was great and it was wonderful to see so many athletes, their coaches, families, and supporters. We enjoyed watching the skaters, walking through the small downtown with surprisingly wonderful restaurants and cafes (I recommend the bakery at Tunnel City cafe with exquisite treats that reminded me of Paris)!

Williams College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States, was also bustling with other events, including a female basketball game vs. Middlebury.

Figure skating is a very challenging sport since it demands incredible discipline and athleticism, but also artistry and musicality. The competitive level was very high this year, which speaks well of this sport. There is also drama associated with this sport from a skater we saw whose hand touched her blade while skating her program and then had to be treated when she got off since she was bleeding (some seemed more worried about her skating dress, though, than her well-being). There were also tears among some of the competitors when they did not do as well as they had hoped. But they did their programs and competed and deserve applause for trying to do their best!

Some skaters were scheduled to skate in more than a single event so the waiting can be taxing and enervating. I suspect that skaters handle the waiting better than their parents! One is also always curious about the size of the flights (that is, the number that one gets to compete against) and over the years, the skaters who stick with this beautiful but difficult sport, get to know one another and to remember the results from various competitions over the years.

What I continue to find fascinating is who sticks with this sport, despite the dedication required, the difficulties associated with it, not to mention the cost. It is breathtaking to watch -- will the skater land the double jump? Will she (most of the skaters were female at this competition) do all the jumps and spins in her program? And even, will she be able to go on the ice to compete (we have seen some who, literally, were too frozen in fear to get on the ice in previous competitions). In this sport (unless one is doing dance or pairs) one is literally alone on the ice with the judges and spectators' eyes staring at you and one can't hide!

A former MBA student of mine, who is an auto executive, and who (I get the most interesting students, I must say) was also a competitive figure skater, sent me an email recently -- he asked me whether I am one of those mothers who can't watch their child compete (indeed, I am, but I am getting better and can now sneak a peak at the beginning of my daughter's program and towards the end).

Congratulations to all the skaters who competed at the 2011 Bay State Games at Williams College and thanks to the organizers for a wonderfully run event! Thanks also to the coaches who nurture their students and who help them to achieve their dreams!

And, yes, my daughter qualified for the State Games of America that will take place in the summer of 2011 in San Diego, California! The competition was tough but she loves this sport and that is what really matters!