A fork in the road: Brooklee’s Blog

3 May 2013

BLOG: I was ready to toss out a not-quite-fantastic meal when I realised I was just missing one ingredient that would make the recipe work!

Yes, I am a figure skater. No, I am not Olympic figure skating Champion-turned TV chef Brian Boitano! I do hope to be an Olympian like him- and I accept my cooking skills will never make it to his standard- but I am referring to the time when I decided to quit figure skating… My coach, Serhii Vaypan has been an instrumental key to my success and he was the missing ingredient! So here is the story of how we met…

I have been working with Serhii for 5 ½  years now and in that time he has brought me from a very bad single axel to competing at the 2013 ISU World Championships and landing all five of the different triple jumps successfully in competition.

I met Serhii shortly after my 12th birthday at a summer skating camp at the International Skating Center of Connecticut (ISCC) in Simsbury, CT. USA.  I had been on the ice for about 7 years at this time.  My first coach Missy was great- she taught me to love figure skating. I progressed to my next coach who had a baby and decided to stop teaching. It was all downhill from there and nothing was working. I trained hard, putting in the time on and off the ice, but I was not being given the rest of the recipe for success to advance to the next level in my skating.

I think I broke some kind of world record- it took me three years to land an awful single axel! There was another issue though- although there are plenty of rinks quite near to where I live, during the winter none of them have any freestyle ice- hockey takes over. Frustrated by my lack of progress and the difficulty of finding ice for me to skate on, my mum and I made a deal: I would do a few more competitions that year, do a week of the camp at the ISCC and then I would be done. I would hang up my skates. I realized that as much as I loved skating, my current situation was not going to allow me to achieve any of the goals I had set for myself. I could start riding horses more, playing my violin more, maybe start ballet again. There were many things that I could do instead of skating.

I am not sure if was luck or fate but the whole plan changed when I went to camp and met Serhii.  Mum enrolled me in the camp and was asked if she wanted me to have private lessons.  She signed me up for a few lessons with different coaches, but one of the ones she wanted was unavailable so it was suggested that I have a few lessons with Serhii. He was a new coach at the rink and all the kids who had worked with him really seemed to enjoy him. It was set that I would give the “new guy” a try. 

I went to the first of what would come to be hundreds if not thousands of lessons with Serhii. After one half-hour lesson, something about how he worked with me and how he was able to correct my mistakes, made me feel that I was onto something good.

My mum had come up to watch me skate that day and saw our lesson and she too felt that we finally have found the right coach for me.  I decided that if Serhii would work with me then I could continue on skating, if not then I would still be done. Obviously Serhii decided to work with me, my bad single axel and all of my wonderfully awful bad habits. I still am not sure if he realized the true scope of the challenge he had accepted. 

One year later I was consistently landing all of my doubles and had just landed my first double axel. Within two years I was completing programs with two double axels and two triple salchows and starting to land some other triples. Soon I found myself competing at my first of what would soon be three Junior World Championships, then my first Senior international event (last April at Triglav Trophy), then my first Four Continents and my first World Championships.

I know without all of his help, support, guidance, patients and instruction I would not have achieved any of these things.  Everyone’s personal recipe is different, I was so very lucky to find the missing ingredient at just the right time!

Thank you all for reading and keeping up with me on the Road to Sochi!

Here's my first Blog: Taking Flight >>>