Tuesday, February 23, 2010

School isn't a Backup Plan. It is a Life Plan. Olympic Figure Skaters

The ice dancing competition is now over at the 2010 Winter Olympics and the Canadians (Virtue and Moir) received a gold medal with the US (Davis and White), the silver, and the Russians (Dominina and Shabalin), the bronze. The renowned and magnificent ice dancers, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, placed fourth but are still Olympians.

Tonight the short program of the women's figure skating competition takes place in Vancouver. The media coverage has been fascinating in print, TV, and online.

To achieve greatness in sport (and in anything, frankly) hard work, discipline, focus, and dedication are number 1 (but some talent and luck help as well). In figure skating, it is not uncommon for skaters to be homeschooled so that they focus entirely on their chosen sport. Sometimes, however, this approach can lead to burnout, and to injuries, although the training that is needed to excel in this difficult sport is immense.

Balance (not a pun) is important and Rachel Flatts, the 17 year old figure skater from Colorado Springs, who will be competing for the US tonight in Vancouver, is the picture of efficiency, on ice and off it, according to a great article in The New York Times. What is especially impressive is her dedication to her schoolwork at Cheyenne Mountain High School, which she attends and takes 4 AP courses at, while maintaining an A average. We have relatives in Colorado Springs and have seen the school and my daughter has even skated at the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, where Rachel trains.

Rachel's parents are accomplished. Her mother is a retired scientist and her father is a president of a biofuels company.

Rachel's mother, Jody Flatts, is quoted in the Times article as saying, Other families have their girls home-schooled or taking classes on the Internet, but we never put Rachael’s education on the back burner for skating. School isn’t a backup plan. It’s a life plan. What a wonderful quote!

Best of luck to Rachel Flatts and the other female skaters tonight and on Thursday night in the long program!