Synchro skater testimony: "We will come back stronger"


Les Suprêmes Senior. (Credits: Danielle Earl Photography - 2020)

Like many teams in Quebec (CAN), Les Suprêmes have not been training since the beginning of October. The measures introduced by the Government still allow individual practices, but the lack of synchro strongly affects the morale of athletes. Agathe Merlier, senior skater and also correspondent for Jura Synchro, shares her feelings in this editorial.

Unlike the first, I had time to see coming to the second lockdown. Cases of Covid-19 were starting to rise again and it was only a matter of time before one could no longer skate. It happened on 7th October, 2020. It was the last practice of Les Suprêmes Senior, my team, and certainly our last ice training of 2020.

When the second lockdown was announced, I felt different emotions, changing over time. Although I still had the desire to skate, this second stop also gave me a feeling of freedom. Indeed, not being able to train our sport as I have always known it, that is to say, to keep my distance from my teammates, having to tie up with sticks, was starting to weigh on my morale and this unwanted break was welcome. 

ADV picture
Soon enough, we resumed our training via Zoom. We are lucky to have this system to continue training together, but of course, it's not the same thing: we miss our team moments, because, in the end, I'm alone in my living room, in front of my computer.

Doubts set in: it took three months before returning to the ice after the first lockdown, how long would it take this time?

What was supposed to be three weeks, has already been extended by a month, and will surely be so again, probably until the new year. It's hard not being able to do what you love most in the world, but I remain grateful that I haven't had any cases of Covid-19 in my team.

This second confinement is different from the first one. I'm fortunate to work still and we can leave our home without any restrictions. With winter coming, we'll soon have the chance to skate outdoors. Besides, some indoor rinks have remained open, so we have the opportunity to do free skating. When we are fortunate, we have the ice rink all to ourselves and do whatever we want.

ADV picture
Skating individually helps me find myself. I continue to work on my skating skills. I also revise our programs. I have to be ready if we ever have a season.

However, I take the time to exist outside my team. I'm reviewing my way of approaching my sport. I no longer try to be the best copy of my teammates. I'm trying to find the figure skater that I was. I take this opportunity to re-work on things abandoned or that I haven't tried since I arrived in Canada 7 and a half years ago. 

I take the time to discover who I am as a person and as a skater, to release my emotions and exist for myself. To think about what I want to accomplish. 

"I wait, I forget... My sport, my feelings, my emotions"
So even if I have the opportunity to skate, I feel a void. I don't have the chance to skate as much as I used to. I miss that feeling of putting my life on hold for a moment of training. To share that moment with my team, laugh out loud, and know that this is happiness. So simply.

To compensate, we try with a few teammates to organize sessions to be able to skate together. It feels so good.

Free skating with my teammates - November 2020

I live from day to day; it is challenging to have projects. Time passes, and I get used to it. I wait, I forget... My sport, my feelings, my emotions. I feel more and more disconnected from skating. Will I one day be able to redo? The uncertainties are real.

I also watch skating competitions from a new perspective. I'm no longer analyzing what the other teams are doing. On the contrary, I'm rather envying them and saying to myself: "Me too, I did that before."

It's like a feeling of living the "after" as if I had decided to stop skating. While not at all. I'm still here, I'm not ready for this and I don't want to. It's too early. It's always too early.

So at least once a week, I watch old programs that I skated and remember what skating taught me. I bring my memories back to life. It helps me to stay motivated: I can't stop like this. I will relive other moments like these, for sure. I know it deep inside me.

ADV picture
I keep my motivation, and I do whatever it takes to stay in shape. I see further into the future and hope for a return to normal as soon as possible. It's sometimes difficult or even discouraging. 

Despite everything, I keep my dreams alive. When this is all over, I have a whole new world to conquer, and I wouldn't want to miss a second of it. I would come back stronger, physically, but mostly mentally. 

"Regret nothing"
Ultimately, we can never know when our last performance will be our last training, even when we think we have everything planned.

Our sports career is short, so there is only one thing to do: make the most of every moment to regret nothing. It's often said, but it makes even more sense in these difficult times.

With this situation, life is giving us an opportunity to ask ourselves: "Are you sure synchronized skating is still the path you want to follow?" Without any hesitation, yes!