By Charlotte Wiman, Member and Co-Advisor of Team Excel Collegiate
The Skating Club of Boston has hosted a variety of major competitions over the past few years: the 2012 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, the 2013 I.S.U. World Synchronized Skating Championships, and most recently, the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. These events have made it an especially exciting time to be a member of Team Excel and The Skating Club of Boston community because Team Excel skaters and families have had the opportunity to participate in and watch these events, and to volunteer.
The 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships marked the 100th anniversary of the national championships, and coincided with an Olympic year. During this event, my teammates and I felt extremely grateful to help make such a historic event possible and to watch fellow Club members compete and vie for a trip to the Olympics.
The younger Team Excel skaters from the Beginner, Preliminary, and Juvenile teams volunteered as sweepers. They not only skated on competition ice with the competitors as they collected toys and flowers thrown by fans, but they also met the competitors when they handed off the items they had collected. Jason Brown was overwhelmingly their favorite skater. One skater recalled how he gave them a high five and how they were left star struck from the encounter. One of our Intermediate skaters was a presenter at various award ceremonies, and she carried the tray of medals for the President of U.S .Figure Skating to present to National Medalists and Olympic Competitors. During the Senior events, Team Excel Collegiate and Team Excel Senior skaters volunteered as “Puffs Ambassadors.” We handed out free Puffs tissue packets on the concourse and threw t-shirts to the crowd during the ice makes. In addition, many of these skaters volunteered over 24 hours for various tasks including ushering, managing sweepers, and more throughout the week.
At the end of the week, the Senior team performed a beautiful long program at the Boston Convention and Expo Center for an enthusiastic audience of conventioneers interested in seeing the competition ice built at that venue for the competition. At the same time, my team, the Collegiate team, was given an amazing opportunity to perform in the Smucker’s Skating Spectacular.
Since many of us were already volunteering or attending the event, we gathered downstairs amidst a flurry of famous skaters preparing for the show. It took quite a bit of strength to stay focused as newly crowned Olympic athletes passed us while we were warming up. The energy downstairs was full of excitement as the national competitors got ready for their performances. We wandered to our locker room and gazed in awe at the hallway covered in brightly colored murals of the Bruins in action. Being allowed in this area of TD Garden was an especially surreal experience for my teammates who grew up in the New England area and attended Celtics and Bruins games throughout their childhood. When we sat down in our individual cubbies in the locker room, we couldn’t help but wonder what NHL players had sat there before us.
Despite all the excitement, we centered ourselves to prepare for a clean skate. The calm, however, was rescinded when we walked up to the ice only to see Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinksi sitting right above us in the announcing booth. Along with them, the amount of people in the audience was unlike anything that we had ever skated in front of before. We attempted to shake out our jitters before taking the ice and reminded each other to cherish every moment of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
When the music started, we felt the energy from the nearby national medalists zip through our veins. I know I had one of the most exciting skates of my life, feeling the music, the lights, and my best friends skating next to me. Walking out of the locker room and past beautiful skaters such as Jason Brown, Gracie Gold, and fellow Club members, Marissa and Simon, I couldn’t help but smile and take a minute to appreciate the experience.
The 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships were a special and memorable event to watch and be involved in, but it was extra special for my team and the rest of the Team Excel organization as members of The Skating Club of Boston. Although we have been involved in a lot of special events over the years from Ice Chips to Skatefest at MIT to An Evening With Champions, this was the most incredible thus far. Being surrounded by so many dedicated athletes, young and old, encouraged me and Team Excel skaters of all ages to be the best athletes that they can be and inspired them to achieve their utmost potential.