An Interview with Eloise, a Special Olympics World Winter Games Figure Skater

Over the Special Olympics World Winter Games, I had the amazing privilege to meet so many incredible people from around the world. To get to┬áthe Opening Ceremony, for example, I got one of the last seats on the South African delegation’s bus. This was such a cool experience because I became friends with many of the players and the head of the delegation. In addition, I met Sue and David Carruthers, the parents of Eloise, who competed in Figure Skating for Team GB.

Throughout the week, I ran into Team South Africa and the Caruthers a few times, and I’m very glad I did. Both groups really contributed to how much I enjoyed the Games. On March 21, I interviewed Eloise for my blog, which was really cool because she is one of the best female figure skaters in Level 4 skating in the world.

Here’s the video. Please excuse the poor sound quality. It was hard to find a quiet place at the rink!

The video ends with Eloise’s free skate, which I just made it to see on Thursday! She won seventh place, and her skating was absolutely beautiful.

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It was really fun to meet and cheer for Eloise at the World Games! ­čśÇ

The Olympics in Bryant Park

On a very cold night on February 5, I joined Nicole and Lena (Special Olympics New York athletes), Adam Rippon (the 2016 U.S. National Champion), Caydee Denning and John Coughlin (the 2012 U.S. National Champions), and the Skyliners (a synchronized ice skating team) at the Bryant Park ice skating rink. The show was absolutely beautiful to watch.

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The Special Olympics New York crew with Adam Rippon

I went to this event last year (see here for that blog post), but this one was even better. Lena, a Special Olympics athlete from Queens, spoke at the beginning to welcome all of the spectators to the show. She was really able to play to the crowd, and by the end of her speech, I could tell that everyone couldn’t wait for the show to start. Bank of America, the sponsor of the event, also spoke, and they presented Special Olympics New York with a $10,000 check!

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Nicole and Lena with the check!

It was really fun to be backstage with all of the athletes, and I was able to talk to them before and after they went on the ice. Nicole, a Special Olympian from Syracuse, went first, and she skated with so much passion. She was a real artist on the ice.

 

After Nicole, the pair went. They performed last year, and they seemed to have only gotten better. I couldn’t believe all the tricks they did! I’m pretty sure I watched their entire show with my mouth wide open. It was incredible.

The Skyliners were next. I had never seen a synchronized ice skating team before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect there to be so many skaters! Their performance was beautiful to watch because they were so fluid in their motions. Everyone flowed together perfectly.

Caydee and John did another small performance to keep the crowd’s excitement up because by that time, it was bitterly cold. Last, Adam Rippon performed. His skating was┬ámore like modern dance. He had all of the technical elements there, but he also invoked so much emotion into his performance. It’s not hard to see how he won the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

All in all, it was an amazing experience. I was able to watch beautiful performances in person with my friends next to me. It was a real showcase of the magic of the Olympic Movement.

 

Countdown to the World Games: Day 4!

Syracuse, where 2015’s Winter State Games were held, is cold. However, my next experience with Special Olympics New York was even colder. On February 24, I ventured to the Special Olympics Showcase at Bryant Park. It was freezing, but I had the best time!IMG_4327

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Johnny Weir

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John Coughlin and Caydee Denney

In true Olympic spirit, Special Olympic and Olympic skaters teamed up to create an amazing showcase for ice skating fans. I was in awe of their talent and courage. I have a hard enough time moving forward on ice, but both the Special Olympic and Olympic athletes were doing so many crazy routines! It was an especially cool experience for me because many of the Special Olympics athletes had skated at the State Games, and I was able to see how much they had improved since then.

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A Special Olympics athlete who also competed at the State Games

The MCing of the event was also a collaboration between the Special Olympics and the Olympics. Johnny Weir, one of my favorite figure skaters and Olympians, and a very charismatic Special Olympics athlete announced each skater. In addition to the Special Olympics athletes, Ashley Wagner, John Coughlin and Caydee Denney, and Johnny Weir performed.

As someone with a very strong passion for the Olympic Movement, this was a gold medal event for me. It reminded me that even though it was winter and my classes were hard, this was the reason for everything I was doing, and it still is. Someday when I’m done with college, I will work to make events like this happen. Until then, I’ll keep volunteering, interning, blogging, and supporting all of the athletes of Team USA.

From top to bottom: Ashley Wagner, two Special Olympics athletes, and John Coughlin and Caydee Denney
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Check in tomorrow for Day 3 of my countdown to the World Games!