Meagan Duhamel Blog #2 – Skater in Residence

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone continues to be well during this difficult time.

During my last post, I talked about this new reality in which we are finding ourselves away from the rink; self isolating and maybe doing all your training classes through online video conferencing. I talked about the importance of adaptability and staying positive during stressful times.

I wanted to kind of steer off that course for now, and chat about life post-skating. I have seen, read and listened to many athletes talk about the adjustment to life after competitive sport and I find everyone’s story so unique. Every athlete processes this period of their life differently and everyone is prepared for the transition differently as well.

For myself, I knew the end was coming. I am so lucky that I ended on my own terms, after I accomplished everything (and MORE) than I had ever thought possible. I went into the Olympics in PyeongChang knowing that it would be my final competitive performance. This didn’t give me any added stress, because I was so focused on my personal goals and performance. I was unusually relaxed as I took the ice for my final free skate with Eric. Usually, I am a bundle of anxious nerves before I skate, and I found myself in the highest stress moment of my life, skating for an Olympic medal. We skated just after an Olympic record-breaking skate from Aljona and Bruno and I was unbelievably calm. Normally, I would have freaked out because over the years I have learned that my anxious nervous energy usually brings out my best in high pressure situations. But for some reason on that afternoon in Korea, I embraced the calm. I decided to just go with it and see where it took me.

Our energy and feelings are an interesting thing, if we try to force a feeling or an emotion, or we try to “create” a moment, it is generally the recipe for disaster. Every experience is unique, and you will never feel the same way twice. Moments are organic, and they happen when we are prepared, and we stay ‘in the moment’ during a performance. That Olympic free skate in Korea was a dream. I felt like I was floating through it, focused but yet enjoying the moment. It’s everything I could have dreamed of having in my Olympic experience. And then? It was over. The magic ended almost as quickly as it started.

I woke up the next day, looked at my beautiful Olympic medals beside me, and said to myself, Okay – what’s next? I knew that was the end of my competitive skating chapter. And I had plans on what was coming next.

Although I loved training and skating and competing, I always kept a good balance in my life. I studied nutrition, became somewhat of a yogi, embraced my love for saving dogs and wanted to start my own family. Skating consumed my life, but there was more to my life than just skating. I had (and still have) a ‘to-do’ list 3 pages long of things I want to accomplish in my life. Run a marathon, start a family, adopt children, open my own vegan café, become a yoga instructor, write a book, and the list goes on. I always had big plans for my life, on the ice and away from it, and after PyeongChang I wanted to embrace the next chapter of my life. I looked forward to it.

I knew what I would miss the most about skating was the training, the daily grind. Figure Skaters are lucky, because in our sport when we stop competing, there are other opportunities for us in the skating World. So, when Eric and I were booked to do tours and shows from March 2018 until January 2019, I was able to stay in my training bubble, while slowly starting my life away from the training rink. This allowed me to slowly wean myself away from competitive skating, while still enjoying the sport that I love.

In the winter of 2019, I found out I was expecting a baby girl, which put my future skating and touring life on hold, and I embraced this next part of my life. For the first time in over a decade, I went weeks on end without intense physical activity, and I found that I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I was ready for new adventures.

Since finishing my skating career in early 2018, I have found myself to be very content. I feel very centred and calm, with no regrets about anything in my skating career. I feel like I am very lucky because I have heard stories from other athletes where this is not the case. I think I was able to leave the bubble of Olympic sport and move towards the “Real World” with ease and hope it’s because I never let skating consume my entire life.

I always worked really hard. I prided myself on being the hardest worker in the room, but I still kept many other interests alive. My skating career had its

ups and downs, but I tried to cherish both the highs and the lows. I always found something beautiful in the good and the bad. I look forward to my future in the same way, and I am ready to learn and embrace everything that I come across.

I fully enjoy my life now, and I attack it with the same energy and determination with which I attacked my skating career. Competitive skating taught me life-long lessons that I will proudly carry with me throughout every facet of my life.

I wanted to share how I eased into skating retirement because while I think it’s important for athletes to speak out loud of their struggles in post-competitive life, I want young skaters to know it’s not always difficult. Everyone is different and everyone has their own journey.

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