AST Skater Spotlight Series – Meet Madeleine

Our Adults Skate Too Skater Spotlight Series is a bi-weekly blog where you can get to know your fellow adult skaters from all over the world! For our second edition, you will get to meet Madeleine! She’s a figures-loving magazine editor from New Jersey who’s a second-chance skater that came back to the ice at the age of 32! Read more to learn about her favorite skating moments, the challenges she has encountered, and her favorite advice from her coach!

What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do for a living?

Name: Madeleine Maccar aka @possiblysushi
From: New Jersey
Job: I’m a magazine editor, and I also do a bunch of freelance writing/editing on the side; to put it another way, I’m the friend everyone texts when they have a grammar question. 

What’s your story? How did you get into figure skating?

I’m definitely a second-chance skater. I half-heartedly skated for a few years as a kid, in that I took weekly group lessons and reluctantly subjected myself to private lessons in high school. But I never liked it very much and I was never that good at it, so spraining my ankle on a loop jump was the gratefully received exit I’d been waiting for.

Sixteen years later, a combination of a friend starting lessons with other adult skaters, the one New Year’s resolution I ever followed through on, and a coworker gently suggesting that I consider a hobby was the perfect storm I needed to get back on the ice on my terms at 32.

It’ll be three years this January, and I have mostly enjoyed the journey—but everything’s give and take, right? I feel like my love of skating ebbs and flows depending on life, progress plateaus, life, my mental health, life, and a thousand other variables. But I think skating is stuck with me ‘til my body says otherwise. It’s so easy to get hooked on the freedom of flying, and I am so grateful that I had a second-act opportunity to discover just how much this sport has to offer.

How often do you get to skate?

My skating schedule is an erratic one, partly because it’s tough finding a consistent sweet spot between adulting and skating, partly because I am just not someone who is energized by a routine schedule.

On a good week, I skate for at least an hour every weekday before work and two hours on Saturday; on a bad week, I’m only getting my Wednesday and Saturday lessons in. The second half of this summer was a lot of scaled-down skating—which wound up teaching me how to focus better and start hacking away at longstanding mental blocks because I really wanted to maximize my limited ice time. It wound up being a great teacher and made me drop a lot of the bad habits I’d picked up: One of my coaches recently told me that taking some time off seems to agree with me and that it’s left me looking like a whole new skater.

What has been the most rewarding or exciting moment in your skating career?

The most rewarding moment was when I gave myself permission to call myself a figure skater. I always feel like I’m farther behind than I should be, and it’s largely because I definitely treat skating like a hobby: I get what I put in, and it’s not always easy to accept that I just can’t skate as much as I want to.

One of the first adult skaters who showed me what an incredible community we have recently came back to the ice after spending nearly seven months recovering from a nasty injury; the first time we skated together since her return, she kept shouting “You couldn’t do THAT a few months ago!” at me, which really made me realize how far I’ve come and how much more credit I should be giving myself, even if I’m JUST now doing things like axel prep and attempting my very first nascent change-foot spins. I’m realizing that I have a hard time accepting that I’m of the same “figure skater” breed as more advanced athletes, but I’ve also learned that it’s less about one’s current skill level and more about the heart that goes into getting better every day.

What has been the most difficult moment of your skating career and how did you overcome it?

There have been a couple tough obstacles to work through.

😂

The first was just getting over my fear of freestyle sessions. My weekday rink is veritably oozing talent (to say nothing of the Olympians-turned-coaches it attracts), and it was intimidating to not only struggle through, like, learning how to feel comfortable doing shaky weaker-side power-threes on the same ice where a national champion is laying down inevitably podium-worthy choreography but also watch kids who could theoretically be my children bust out doubles and dauntingly precise footwork. A year and a half later (yes, really), one of my coaches found out that my self-inflicted intimidation was keeping me from practicing more and gently chided me for it, saying that “Every figure skater has a place at freestyle.” Now people text the rink’s head custodian to see if anyone’s heard from me if I start slacking off on my morning skates. 

The other is simply being a mediocre skater among some amaaaazing talent, and the feelings of inadequacy that come from that. I had to learn that my skating journey is mine alone, and that I should be proud of every inch of progress I wrest from this inherently demanding and occasionally demoralizing sport. I get discouraged easily—I’m definitely one of those people who abandons things that I’m not immediately good at—and it has been hard to stick with skating when there are days I want to run screaming from it. I have to remind myself that I do this because I love it, not because I want to impress a judge or my fellow skaters. It’s actually been really hard to admit that I’m not made for competition and I might not ever be when so much of my skating family are medal-worthy talents, but I AM made for cheering on my favorites.

What’s your favorite element to practice?

Figures have stolen my heart. The circle eight on the Bronze MITF test got me hooked on figures, and this year’s Lake Placid Adult Skating Weekend showed me how deliberate and meditative they’re supposed to be.

But, really, my favorite thing to practice is a moving target because it’s generally what I’m having breakthroughs with, or what I’m hellbent on improving: Right now, I am all about sit and back spins. Sit spins have been something that I found encouraging from the beginning (and I’m definitely a stronger jumper than spinner, so that was a nice surprise) while I have fought for every fraction of a revolution I can eke out of the back spins that I’ve only recently started feeling good about. I also really love busting out power pulls and backward crossrolls because I love the sounds they make.

What’s your favorite off-ice exercise to practice?

I LOVE my spinner and my stretch band (and also practicing jumps while my dog is nosing around the yard). Flexibility is a hard fight for me, and anything that helps me get a little more bendy is a blessing. I did yoga for a while, too, but barre classes are my absolute favorite.

How has skating impacted your life?

Oh man, besides my divine skater’s butt and the muscular definition my legs didn’t even have in my 20s?

Skating has improved my life in ways I would have never imagined when I first found my way back to a sport I couldn’t believe I was trying again. It’s given me confidence when I never had any. It has given me a sisterhood that fills an ice rink with the warmth of home (and the occasional onslaught of goofy and/or mushy group texts). It had taught me discipline, focus, patience, gumption, and how to reconcile my nerd brain with my athlete brain. It’s why I’ve gotten to work with world-class instructors on historic ice (seriously, the Lake Placid adult skating program is AMAZING and I can’t recommend it enough, especially for those of us who are still refining pre-Silver skills).

And, honestly, skating is why I’m going back to therapy. There are a lot of things that I’ve learned about myself through skating that I was able to see because I was bringing the same old hang-ups to a whole new context. Nobody self-sabotages like I do, and skating has really shone a light on all the ways I hold myself back from or talk myself out of going after what I really want. And skating is what made me want to improve all the parts of me that need it because I want to bring the best of me to a sport that has given me so much.

What’s the best advice your coach has given you?

I have two coaches, and they’re both exceedingly supportive souls who really know how to coach adult skaters well. And they both consistently give me the same advice that I ignore but really need to heed: Be. Patient. I get frustrated and worked up and throw up mental blocks, and it’s all because I rush my spins or don’t properly set up my jumps or don’t complete a move to its maximized conclusion. Learning that everything takes time is hard, and skating has forced me to stay calm, focused, and never stop working for today’s goal that will set up tomorrow’s progress.

What’s your advice for other adult skaters out there?

Don’t give up and don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. The fact that you get out there every day when it’s easier to make excuses is freaking awesome, and showing up is half the battle. But my favorite pieces of advice are a meme and a hashtag I see floating around the adult skating community quite a bit: The former, you have to be bad at something before you excel at it; the second, progress not perfection.

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