In this series, Juliette Sivertsen interviews people who live and breathe wellbeing. Former champion New Zealand figure skater Brooke Tamepo reflects on her life on the ice.
My skating journey began when I was 6 years old.
I had been going to the ice rink ever since I was born as my dad was an ice hockey player. However, it wasn't until I saw the figure skating in the 2002 Olympics on television that I realised I wanted to be a figure skater.
Skating not only makes you physically stronger, but it also makes you a mentally stronger person. It may take 1000 falls before you land that new jump for the first time, it might take you a month of practice to make that spin faster or it may take you a year of performing to finally feel your choreography connect with your music.
Enduring the training process and eventually getting the satisfaction of achieving the end result teaches you a lot about yourself. It builds character, teaches you to be persistent and to never give up on your goals.
Skating is a physically demanding sport. Not only does it require strength, flexibility, fitness and technical skills but it is also a form of art. It is this form of expression and artistry that makes me love the sport.
Skating is my escape.
Knowing that no matter what I am facing in life, there is a place where I can go, feel the breeze on my face and move my body to the music gives me a sense of freedom.
Injury prevention and monitoring was a key focus in the later stages of my competitive career. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent team of healthcare professionals who helped me monitor and keep my body in a position where I could keep skating.
The mind-body connection is something that often gets overlooked in sport. How you are feeling, what you are thinking can have a big impact on how you perform at training and in competition. As well as keeping my body well, I also had to keep my mind well. I worked with a sports psychologist to develop a set of tools that I could use to aid my performance.
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I've always tied my right skate up before my left, always listen to my "pump-up" playlist when warming up for a competition and I always take a moment right before my music starts to take a breath. That moment, when you are waiting in your starting position, is probably the most daunting and longest few seconds of every performance. Everybody is watching and waiting.
Being in an aesthetic sport, there is often pressure on athletes to avoid eating certain things, to look a certain way. I have always believed that no two people are the same, so prescribing them the same diet or asking them to look a certain way is unattainable and unnecessary. I found a way of eating that worked for me.
I have learned how to skate for the joy of the sport, without any pressure to attain certain skills or be at a certain level. One thing I know for sure, is that skating will always be a part of my life, the ice is my happy place.