Colorado ice skater’s hopes frozen, then re-thawed

Sept. 9, 2013

Crystal Chilcott
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I’m from Pennsylvania. I don’t have to be here – in fact, there are quite a few reasons why I wouldn’t want to be. Tuition is more expensive, the climate is not what I’m used to and the traffic here is just terrible.

I moved to Colorado three years ago to figure-skate at the World Arena Ice Hall. I was 17, a senior in high school and didn’t know anyone in the entire state.

Since I was 12, I had been frustrated with the recreational hockey rink at which I trained. I begged my parents for the opportunity to skate at an elite center.

I used to stay up all night constructing PowerPoint presentations telling my parents all of the reasons I wanted to move 1,542 miles away from home.

When I finally got here, I thought my dreams had come true. Everything was a struggle, but that’s what I was expecting. (Isn’t a quest for the Olympics always a struggle?)

I did everything else right – I listened to my coaches, did everything they told me and practiced every chance I got.

Even when I got injured, I pushed through. When I still didn’t meet my goals, I changed coaches. Finally, the worst happened.

On Aug. 25, I failed my senior free-skate test, despite completing all the required elements. It felt like a slap across the face that even at my best I didn’t meet the necessary level.

I changed coaches, thinking that this was the solution, that this would finally push my skating to the life-long standard I held for myself. As of yet, it hasn’t.

I won’t be competing at regionals this year. I’m 20, which is relatively old to still be skating. It’s almost ridiculous to think that my family spent $60,000 per year on my skating while I gave up the opportunity to study at a school with my major of choice.

It’s frustrating and disheartening to realize that my fondest dream may never come to fruition. But I don’t regret it.

For all the condescending comments from a coach, there were words of praise from others that I will always cherish.

For every time I collided with a world champion and fractured my rib, there was the joy at winning the pewter medal at the 2013 U.S. Collegiate National Championships.

I love the mountains here in Colorado, the opportunities that come from an outdoor-focused state. From a tiny, sleepy steel town in Western, Pa., I’ve been able to witness the diversity of this state.

I chose Colorado. And while my journey has not been what I had hoped for, it changed my life in other – arguably better – ways.

My license and registration are in Pennsylvania, but I’m registered to vote in Colorado and spend most of my time here. In a lot of ways, I seem confused, but I also know that I am here because of my choice.

Now, I seem to be a native of two states. I’m going home, I say whenever I leave Colorado. In Pennsylvania: I’m going back home.

In all our life, we make choices about what we care most about. And while they rarely turn out as we envision, we learn from them and they ultimately shape our lives.