December Skater in Residence Kaitlyn Weaver – Blog Post

December, 2020.

Season’s greetings! KW here— I hope that everyone reading this is healthy and safe, and is feeling surrounded by love and hope this holiday season. We’ve made it…  we’ve made it (!!!) to December of 2020. For some of us, barely. This year has felt like an epic roller coaster for most, downward spiral for some, or a complete soul-reckoning for others. If you’re like me, a little bit of everything and a bag of chips.

You know me as one-half of the ice dance duo “Weaver / Poje”, and so my first thought goes to all of the athletes, coaches, and families who are navigating this unprecedented time in sport. I truly cannot imagine what it feels like to train this season, with hope hanging on every communication and government guideline. But one thing I do know is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. It has been so inspiring to witness my friends, fellow teammates, and next generation manifest structure, growth, and achievement during a time that feels wishy-washy at best. I am so in awe of you. During hard times, the ice has always been my safe haven— the place where no matter what was going on in my life or in the world, I feel like I know where I want to go and how to get there… and that I belong. There’s structure, freedom, and joy in our practice on the ice, whether we are competitive or recreational, and I always have felt that that’s a precious gift! I hope that even when ice time is limited, my skating family has been able to reconnect with their joy and inner purpose on the ice.

But something bigger looms as 2020 takes its final bow, and that is the impact that a global pandemic and fight for social justice have equally revealed. In January of this year, my personal realm included performing, teaching, choreography, and dreaming about what the future might hold for me outside of skating. Quickly, in March, three out of four things had vanished. Without skating, I was encouraged to think of ways that an ice dancer on her couch eating Cheez-Its could contribute to the greater good, and Open Ice was born. Never before had I dreamed that I could create and host (what the heck was I thinking?!) a four-hour long LIVE stream with skating’s biggest stars to fundraise for the United Nations Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund. But I did it, with the help of On Ice Perspective’s Jordan Cowan and a lot of very generous friends and mentors. What this inspired in me was to look at the role that I had curated in skating, and shift it completely: to refocus, and delve deeper. It became clear that I was called to do everything in my power to use my platform for good… and that it is possible.

This summer, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and fight for racial equality around the world, the Skate Canada Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group was formed. I remember sending the e-mail confirmation that I would accept a position in the group, but I was confused. I didn’t know how I would be able to contribute, but I was alight with motivation to help create change. I quickly learned that I can, and it was my responsibility in this community to do so. Together, we committee members are hard at work to create a safer, more inclusive space for athletes in our sport across Canada. I’ll be honest, it took time for us to even identify where the starting point was, where each of us sat in our overt or unintentional systemic racism, and how to direct ourselves to any solution (enter: Dr. Tina Chen, a teacher, a role model, a literal gift from God) This work isn’t easy for anyone, but the opportunity to listen, learn, and become the change that our sport needs is life-changing and necessary.

These two huge experiences changed me, and my role in skating evolved again — from athlete, to activist— and to my surprise, it’s only gaining momentum. This is what I’m learning this year, and I hope that all of the athletes in Canada come to understand it, too. You have a voice, you have power, and you have impact. Our job as athletes or role models in sport doesn’t end on the ice, and it shouldn’t. Figure skating is our joy, our safe place, and our community, and by uniting this skating family for good, we are limitless. My passion for this sport has not waned, but it has grown and expanded far beyond where I dreamed it could go as a little girl. It has prepared me for more. And, much to my surprise, the last time I stood on a podium would not necessarily be my proudest moment in this sport. Telling stories, sharing experiences, and having a dream on the ice will not be finished after you skate in front of nine judges. But the platform you’ve worked so hard for can move from the arena to the anxiously awaiting world, and that’s where we can continue to inspire and create lasting change — together.

The skating family is comprised of the most generous and community-driven people that I can think of. But I encourage you, in these last few weeks of December, to do, or even just dream of the ways you make an impact and run with it. Tell your story. We are all so capable of creating a skating world that is better, and I have fierce belief that 2021 will be the beginning of it. Join me.

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