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Mindful : June 2014
June 2014 mindful 25 Skating used to be something I could do in my sleep, and now I have to work a little harder. I have more gratitude for what my body can do, what I’m moti- vated to do. I don’t take it for granted any more. I have new appreciation for it as I get older. Going Pro I grew up in Rhode Island. I started skat- ing when I was 12 years old. I liked the way it made me feel. In retrospect, it did bring me into the moment. I didn’t have words for it then, but I think that ’s what was happening. In the movement and the flow, everything else fell away. I was 19 when I started skating pro- fessionally. I did three years with the Ice Capades, traveling a round North America. Playing in f ront of giant crowds in Madison Square Ga rden and the Superdome, I loved everything about it. And then I signed up with Holiday on Ice for a European tour. I still get the sa me feeling every single time I step on the ice. I feel free. Just being in the body instead of the head, let- ting the body do what it wants. And I still take on the jumps. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I still do. Compelling Elements There’s a progression to doing a jump. You train for it—it helps to have a good coach, good technique, and good positioning. Then it’s just practice a nd repetition, hours and hours of your time. Then, in the moment, I have to get up the courage to let my body do what it knows how to do. One of my favorite jumps that I do is called a toe-loop. I start by skating backwards and I pick up as much speed as I can. While I’m on my back-edge, I stick my toe pick—the front of the skate blade—into the ice; it sort of catapults me up into the air to provide the height needed. I pull my arms and legs in, and if I’m centered over my axis, I can complete two turns. If everything goes well, I land on one back outside edge, and glide out happily. For the toe-loop, I leave from the right and land on the right, counterclockwise. I usually fall a few times before I land one, so I have to be prepa red for that—for the probability of falling. There’s not a ton of ner vousness because I’ve fallen so many times. There are days when the jump just won’t happen; I know when I’m done and it’s not going to work that day, so I try again another day. Skating Bliss Skating is different now tha n it used tobe.WhenIcangooutforanhourat lunch, listen to music and skate, and get my blood pumping, it definitely brings more balance to the day—more energy and more perspective. The afternoon feels more alive. The whole rest of the day after a skate, or even the next morning when I wake up, I’ll feel it in my body that I’ve skated. It has really lasting effects. It feels really good. Putting on the skates is always like coming home. It’s reliably joyful. ● Photograph by Ross Mantle Blade Lover Even though I can’t always complete the jumps I used to, I still manage to stay balanced and focused. In the movement and in the flow, everything else falls away and I skate with pure joy. Focus on: Erin Sharaf