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5 Life Lessons From the World of Figure Skating

Updated on March 31, 2019
ccleau profile image

Figure Skating enthusiast since Winter Olympics 2018 when I first became aware a champion's bid for back-to-back Olympics gold.


He fell on his opening jump, a mere five seconds into his routine, in the biggest event of an athlete’s life: the Olympics. What could have been a total disaster on this world stage did not faze this young man; he went on to skate flawlessly until the end.

Welcome to the uber youthful world of figure skating, with its super-short shelf life. Fifteen years of honing their skills and just when they reach the top of their profession, their bodies signal the beginning of the end. Yet there are those who trade their childhood and youth for a sport which gives us breathless displays of athleticism and artistry. As a casual audience, I’m struck by the language of skating:

1) You can win even after a fall

Because there are many elements where scores are given (jumps, spins, etc.), it is entirely possible to win even with a fall.

Life is not defined by one disaster – if we refused to be sidetracked and continue with our efforts after a failure, we can come out victorious at the end.

2) Go all out as youth is ephemeral

Figure skaters tend to start their careers at the age of four or five. Those who became Olympic champions typically do so before they’re 24 years old. Just as most of us are entering the workforce, they are preparing for retirement.

There’s no time to lose. As the saying goes, “Time and tide wait for no man” – go for it, whatever it is we wish to do or achieve. Here I’m not referring to being foolhardy, mainly the principle of seizing the day.

3) It’s not just about the jumps

I hold my breath every time skaters look like they’re about to jump. I’m awestruck when they succeed, aghast when they go splat on the ice. Apparently marks are earned on how they go in and out of jumps i.e. it's not just about landing on the right foot.

Life is not about just the one thing, e.g. we pay attention when a business is successful but less on the “how”. It is the process which brings about success.

4) There’s always a second chance

Competition consists of 2 parts: a short programme (SP) and a longer free skate (FS). Skaters who do badly in the SP know they have the chance to catch up in the FS.

Life offers second, third, fourth and many more chances if we don’t give up!

5) Joy of a champion

You can’t miss the pure happiness of champions or help rooting for them. Intuitively we sense it’s their ultimate reward for all their sacrifices.

There’re many “wins” in our lives we can celebrate. We don’t have to let the fear of appearing boastful stop us from punching the air if we feel like it!

There you have it – my life lessons from the world of figure skating – the Winter Olympics has come and gone but boy, has it lifted my spirits!

© 2018 CC Leau


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