I just came back from my trip to the Synchronized Figure Skating National Championship on the East coast. I must say it was such a cultural shock (in a positive way for the most part) and a great learning experience for me. It’s been quite a while since I was last involved in any forms of competitive sporting event so it was refreshing to witness synchronized skating at the highest level in the US.

Growing up, figure skating was (and still is) one of my favorite sports to watch because of these athletes’ ability to combine grace and power on ice. Little did I know how much time, effort, and money are invested for those 3 to 5 minutes of performance: every skater has the perfect up do with no fly-aways, glamorous makeup, and let’s not forget their colorful outfits with sparkles all over. All of these things have to be done before you step out of the locker room and onto the ice. Another thing I saw from watching the competition this weekend was that all the skaters seem to have this uniform smile on and off the ice. I realized later on that it is the performance aspect that figure skaters and other sports (gymnastics, synchronized swimming, etc) have to bring to the table.

If this is not enough, the amount of pressure to put on an entertaining program for the crowd and judges is hard to imagine for me. Not only these skaters put in so much effort to look good, they have to be able to find a way to cope with potentially falling in front of hundreds of people and being judged by some people sitting close by the rink. No matter how well you think you have just performed, your performance is up to the judges. Unlike sports with timing devices or a scoring system, not having the ability to control the outcome of your result is frightening to me.

What do you think?