On any given day, I am a pretty emotional person. But when I stood out on the ice, took off my team Canada jacket, and heard the announcer call “from Canada, Michelle Long”, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotions: pride, anticipation, and pure joy. With only 30 seconds to hit my beginning pose, I had to focus on the short program, at my first international event, representing Canada.
This experience is one I have been waiting and working for, my entire career as a senior level skater. Before making it onto the ice as a National Team member, I was a skating fan, attending as many events in the area as possible, to watch the best skaters in the world. Now, I was sharing the ice with some of those skaters I have been watching for years. That was pretty cool!
Although my competition week consisted mainly of early mornings, healthy meals, naps and a little bit of skating, some very interesting things happened. After my very first official practice, as all of us skaters were exiting the ice I went to grab my team jacket – and noticed there was a spider on it. Now it doesn’t sound scary, but to someone like me who is terrified of spiders, it was! I shrieked in front of an arena full of spectators and my fellow competitors. I felt my heart racing but it was a good way to break the ice, and we all had a good laugh about it after.
Once the competition was underway, the nerves started to set in. I am generally not a skater who gets nervous for competitions, but with the new experience in front of me, I started to feel some pressure to perform well. Knowing that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, I went for it and gave it my best performance. Although these programs were not my best technically, I can take so many positives from this event, and can honestly say that I am so excited to get back to training for whatever comes next.
The highlight of my weekend came after my competition had finally ended. Since the Ladies event was the first to finish, I was able to sit back and watch, and cheer on the rest of my team! I was amazed and overwhelmed by the amount of support from the audience, my competitors, and my fellow Canadian teammates. Since Montreal is a popular training location, many of the skaters that train in the area also came to watch and cheer on the team. So many of them took the time to talk to me about my performance, the experience, and to give me advice for the future. Those are words that I will never forget! That and, “from Canada, Michelle Long!”