Erin Bridges: Skates into Competition Season

Standing in the middle of the huge ice rink wearing a beautiful $600 skating dress covered in sparkles, Erin Bridges waits to perform her routine. As she stands on the ice–one arm held high in the air and her back arched–she takes deep breaths, and replays her routine in her head. The music echoes in the arena and she begins with a simple spin, starting her three- minute performance which needed years of training and experience. 

Skating since she was only three years old, Bridges has started competitive skating at seven. Dedicating three hours each day to skating and practicing skills, Bridges works very hard to get where she is today. Her only day off, Sunday, means her season never stops. 

“During the off-season, a skater works hard with their coach on new skills and strengthening old skills. Skaters make their new programs for the new season,” said Bridges. “They have to be better, harder, and stronger than their last seasons. It’s a lot on the body.” 

Because of constant falls, failures, downsides, blood, sweat, and tears, skaters need a lot of strength to make it through competition season. When competition season comes around, they continually need to get better.

 “One has to execute jumps or spins correctly for the rotations or seconds, otherwise they will get a low score. Skaters put in hours of work for only six competitions a year,” said Bridges.  “Competition season is mostly in the summer through October. There are not that many competitions. They’re long, normally around 20 people or more in a group. It depends if it’s a big competition.” 

Skating is not only difficult, but also is expensive. Dresses for competitions start around $600 but can go into the thousands. Programs, lessons, and practices are just a few more things for which a skater has to pay. For Bridges, money is a big setback in her skating career. She sometimes may not be able to get the best or newest dress for her competitions. 

“Figure skating is not only extremely difficult, but you have to look good while doing it,” said Bridges. “The programs are short but they are pretty tiring. The skater has to look nice, with a good outfit and makeup. We all have our cute dresses or unitards on.” 

Skating is an art with precise timing on jumps and spins–it is not only going around the rink a few times or doing a few spins.  Skaters have to learn technique perfectly or their performance will not look good.  Putting everything together with music and dance is one of the hardest aspects of skating. 

Even though skating is hard and expensive, Bridges still manages to get through it all and live out her figure skating career to the fullest. 

“I plan on skating in college, joining a good team, hopefully going to collegiate nationals with my team, improving my skating while getting my degree, and just working hard.”

Out on the ice, the rush of cold air against her skin triggers her adrenaline. Bridges spins through the air and lands, slicing the ice with her skates sending a shower of crystals around her. As the music crescendos, she digs the toe of her skate into the ice, and throws her hands up–three minutes of perfection. She waves to the roaring crowd, knowing the performance was over but the best is yet to come.