Healing a Broken Sport: My Story - by Morgan Matthews

Sylvia

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I posted the link to Morgan's April 18th Substack post in 2 other threads yesterday and now feel that it's worth creating a separate thread for her writings on important topics in figure skating from her perspective.

Excerpt from the end:
I left the sport to go back to school and construct a normal, healthy life. But I miss figure skating. And I wish every day that I could have gotten the help I needed and stayed in the sport so I could have realized my full potential. I love figure skating and want to find a way for athletes to work through their struggles without having to numb out, bow out, or exit this world entirely. I want to heal this broken sport.
I want to heal the brokenness in figure skating, but I don’t exactly know how. However, I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, so I’d like to write a series of posts that highlight some of the ways that healing is occurring in the sport, such as coaches training on injury treatment and nutrition, DEI efforts, and sub-disciplines like Solo Dance and Theatre On Ice. I hope that this will provide a starting point for deeper thought, and perhaps even action, especially from former figure skaters.

Much love,
Mo
Her Substack: https://morganmatthews.substack.com/

She published her first blog post on April 4 - "Why I'm Writing About Figure Skating In 2024: https://morganmatthews.substack.com/p/2024-worlds-made-a-skating-fan-of
It’s been over a decade since I retired from competitive figure skating. I did some coaching post-retirement to put myself through college and I tried trial judging just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but neither of these roles felt quite right for me. I go to a practice session every few years just to see if my body still remembers what to do. I fall in love again each time my blades grace the ice, but am crushed with disappointment when my injured hip starts throbbing (I’m waiting to replace it so I can hopefully get <3 hip replacements in my life) and I cannot walk properly for days afterward. In short, it’s been challenging to find my place in figure skating since retiring from competition.
 
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Sylvia

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An inspirational piece today (May 5) on "Life After Skating":
 

Sylvia

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This Week in Skating's May 7th podcast episode:
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In this episode, Daphne, Gina and Matteo were joined by 2005 World Junior Champion Morgan Matthews Pennington. Now after years away from the sport, Morgan is sharing her story through a blog and talking about the sport she loves to hate, but mostly loves.
Morgan's blog: https://morganmatthews.substack.com/
 

Taso

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Really enjoyed her posts so far for lots of reasons. Not the least that she has 2 for Gilles & Poirier's 2016 FD which I absolutely loved - good taste!

I hope there is a way for her to see the healing the hopes for this sport come true.
 

overedge

Mayor of Carrot City
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Everyone on this board who thinks that winning medals is the only measure of achievement in skating, or that skaters are lazy or wimps for not continually pushing themselves to do more difficult elements, should read this. From Morgan's latest Substack post:

Letting figure skaters, especially at the elite level, decide when to rest and what to eat might be a scary prospect for some coaches. Their progress might slow down and some skaters might not make it to the elite level as a result. But that has to stop being seen as a bad thing. Figure skating doesn’t lose its merit for a figure skater just because they didn’t become Olympic champion. It does lose its merit if they leave the sport, Olympic medal or not, with physical injuries and mental trauma that plague them for the rest of their lives. We have to stop training figure skaters with the primary goal of making Olympic champions. That’s like setting one’s budget with the assumption that one will win the lottery. It’s not practical and it doesn’t serve the individual.
 

once_upon

Better off than 2020
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Olympic medals are limited in number, it should never be the Holy Grail at the expense of someone's health. Driven by coaches or parents to ruin your health..is not good for the overall life.
 

skategal

Bunny mama
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I’m really enjoying Morgan’s blog.

I especially like this one about the Lala’s 2024 World’s performances.

 

overedge

Mayor of Carrot City
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Morgan's latest post is bang on. I really encourage everyone to sign up for her Substack.

All of her suggestions are excellent, but this one is especially important IMO.

Coaches at many elite training centers will recommend that skaters take several hours of lessons a day from a range of spin, jump, edge, and off-ice specialists in addition to themselves. For most skaters this is absurd. It leaves a skater with no time to practice what they’ve learned and explore the sport for themselves. It leaves young skaters with so many tips and corrections floating around in their heads that they cannot skate for joy. And it robs a skater of the opportunity to learn self correction.
 

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