I was watching an ice-skating competition for the first time in my life at a friend’s house. It was the lady senior 2008 US Nationals. Since then, I have been thinking about this one girl who fell in a jump at the very beginning of her performance. After the fall she kept going as if nothing had happened; her jumps were decided and steady and her face looked graceful and relaxed. I couldn’t figure out what she had in her mind but what she expressed was self-possession. Even when she finished and went back with her trainer she looked cool. She kept smiling.
After each performance the jury gives the points for that particular contestant. Well, she got a high score and at the end of the competition she came up third. Overall, after adding those points to the ones she already had she became the new 2008 senior ladies champion of the U.S. (the second youngest US champion ever).
I read some years ago that a study was once made about some athletes to see how they dealt with stress. The study showed that all the participants experienced similar levels of stress before the competition started. The ones who obtained the best results were those who were able to avoid paying too much attention to the stress they were experiencing and instead directed their concentration to the movements they were making.
I guess sometimes we try to overcome stress by getting rid of it. Maybe, this increases our mental pressure. Maybe it is more about were you invest your energy, where you carry your attention.
Mirai Nagasu (photo by Leah Adams)
(I read on-line that in an interview after the contest she said: ‘The fall on the double axel was like a kick in the butt. After that, I was like, ‘Attack!’ )