Erin Paterson could’ve trained for the Olympics.
But the Airdrie figure skater, who recently completed a milestone achievement by earning quadruple gold in skating’s skills, dance, interpretive and free skate test components, has decided to go a different route.
She has decided to pursue coaching, because she wants her sport to remain fun and believes higher levels of competition would have removed any enjoyment she gets from it.
“If you’re going to figure skate, you have to take the test and you can either go competitive, where your goal would be the Olympics, or earn the quad gold and have that achievement and begin to coach,” said Paterson, who turns 16 in August.
“I was always in it for the fun of it, not to go to the Olympics. It gets way more competitive when you’re skating against 20-30 people. You would have to skate a lot more, like five or six times a week.”
Competitive skaters are faced with a series of 43 tests, part of the International Skating Union’s requirements, in the four categories of skills, dance, interpretive and free skate. The skills aspect involves specific moves like spins and edge, dance is performed with a partner, interpretive is how you move and creatively react to a piece of music and the free skate is mainly comprised of jumps.
Paterson took her first test when she was eight. When she first began skating however, at age four with the Learn to Skate and Canskate programs, she did have dreams of going to her sport’s top-level.
“When you’re really little, you see the Olympic athletes and think ‘that would be so cool,’ but for me it was always ‘am I ever going to get there?’ she said. “I still want to compete and do that, but I also want to put my time into coaching. I don’t think I ever want to quit skating. It’s been such a big part of my life.”
Her continued training and coaching will now be combined efforts during the week, but on the weekends she will have to conduct each aspect separately. She is also about to enter Grade 11 at George McDougall High School, so she knows that finding time for everything will soon become a significant challenge.
“It’s going to be difficult to balance, but I’ve always been busy with skating. You just have to learn to manage your time,” Paterson said, adding she can officially start entry-level coaching courses after she turns 16.
“I’ll start coaching the younger kids and the kids that have decided skating is what they want to do and who are actually starting to compete.”