Keegan Messing’s definition of “reining it in a bit” is probably quite different than that of the average person.
As the skating world gets set to gather in Stockholm for the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Messing, the charismatic Alaskan who holds Canadian and American citizenship, will proudly represent Canada as the lone entry in the men’s competition, which gets underway Thursday at the Ericsson Globe.
Messing, the life loving, cowboy hat-wearing three-time Canadian men’s medallist, has put his abundance of spare time to good use over the past year, hiking, climbing and just taking in all Mother Nature has to offer.
In recent months, as is his annual tradition, Messing has turned his attention to building and maintaining his backyard rink to help him get through the frigid Alaska winters. This winter, he has doubled the rink in size and, because his backyard has a downgrade slope, Messing built up one end with ice to create an even plane. He also added a few ramps for an extra adrenaline kick.
With the world championships on deck, those ramp jumps will have to wait.
“I was going for a full backyard Crashed Ice course,” said Messing with a laugh. “I just wanted to get the course built. I built some pretty sweet features out there, then I got named to worlds, and it was like ‘well, it looks like I am not going to be able to do any of these features yet.’”
“I am putting some of my wild side on the low burner and keeping myself reined in a little bit. It’s a little bit difficult for me to do.”
Reining it in will likely be the norm for Messing in the coming months, as he and his wife, Lane, are expecting their first child in July.
Like the rest of the world, Messing has had to deal with restrictions over the past year. While the lockdown lasted only a couple of months in Alaska, Messing was hesitant to return to his local gym when his community reopened.
So, he did what he does best. He improvised with, as he calls them, “random odds and ends devices.”
As part of his workout routine, he hauled a pair of 36-pound car batteries from under car hoods to use as weights while doing squats. When he needed a heavier weight for an exercise, he grabbed a chainsaw.
Yes, a chainsaw.
Not your typical home gym, perhaps, but more than enough for Messing to break a sweat.
That training will be put to good use this week when Messing reunites with his Canadian teammates for figure skating’s crown jewel event.
Five months ago at Skate America, an emotional Messing dedicated his bronze medal to his teammates who had their Grand Prix season wiped out due to the pandemic. The gesture was so real, so genuine, so heartfelt.
“Skating for the team at Skate America, it was one of the best things I feel like I could have done,” reasoned Messing. “I took the ice and, even re-watching the video, I can see right before I took my pose, I can see it in my face on when I thought of the team and I was like ‘this is for you guys.’”
“I really feel for the Canadian team. I really feel for last year’s worlds team, and especially them. They had worlds taken from them, they had Skate Canada (international) taken from them and then they had nationals taken away from them, so it’s like they have been the real MVPs of this fight. I am just really honored I can compete side by side with them.”
Messing is ready for quite the reunion this week in Sweden.
“I haven’t seen the team in over a year,” he said. “Going out to worlds and seeing the team, I’m ecstatic to do it. I can’t wait to go there, see them, catch up and, in reality, skate for them. Skate to make them proud.
“I’m there with them and that, like we can do this. Like, really, we can do this.”