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‘Tis the season for figure skating. It’s one of the very few sports I enjoy watching on television. It’s more artistic than a football game, more graceful than a wrestling match. I love dance and gymnastics and figure skating is like a combination of both with the added challenge of ice.

I’m particularly enthralled with the pairs skating — the throws, the side-by-side spins and jumps, the complicated dangerous lifts. Exciting stuff! But then there are the men and women’s singles, increasing in difficulty every season. I sit on the edge of my seat holding my breath while I wait to see who will land the quads, who’s layback spin demonstrates the best lines and speed.

Sometimes the competition is fierce. Everyone skates clear, practically perfect. Nobody makes any obvious errors. But then there are the other times.

If you’ve ever watched a figure skating competition you know what I mean. The skater begins with a brilliant smile, builds speed with the music, leaps into the air for the first jump — and then something goes drastically wrong. The body tilts the wrong way, the blade slices into the ice at an odd angle, and the skater collapses as the audience winces, “Ohhh!”

Silence engulfs the arena as everyone ponders the same thought; “Will the program be saved?”

Usually, it is. The skater regains control and finishes the program strong. But sometimes the confidence is shaken, the timing is thrown off, the momentum can’t be regained, and the audience watches in horror as the skater stumbles awkwardly through the footwork sequence, spins dangerously close to the boards, and continues to fall — jump after jump after jump.

It’s painful to watch these programs. In a desperate attempt to gain some points and confidence the skater often starts adding disastrous unscheduled jumps, and the audience sends silent prayers for a solid landing that never materialises.

But here’s the thing that strikes me most about these horror shows on ice — the skater never quits. He or she pushes to the end of the program no matter how many falls, no matter how out of sync with the music. And when the final note fades and the skater is left alone at centre ice wearing a whole lot of regret and a grim smile, the audience comes onto their feet and applauds the effort, the determination, the sheer guts of it all.

It is very rare for a skater to quit. I think I’ve only seen it once and it was because of a technical problem with the skate blade. Once the music starts, skaters are committed to the program. Anything can happen in that three or four minutes. It can be great or it can be terrible, but either way, you can count on the skater to be there on the ice at the end.

Now, imagine if everyone approached their lives with this sort of strength and determination. What if nobody ever quit? What if nobody ever let fear of failure stop them from reaching their goals? What if everyone shrugged off their embarrassment or humiliation and focused on doing better next time? Imagine a world filled with figure skaters. Imagine the accomplishments!

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