Article by Kimmie Meissner | Special to Owl Magazine | Photography by John Morin | Owl Staff
What is post-Olympic life like? Well, it involves professional skating shows, coaching and school…lots of school. It hasn’t always been this way. I had a challenging transition between top of the world and now, but I’ve found my way. Now a few years down the road, I can look back with the wisdom only time and perspective can bring and for that, I am grateful.
Moving back home from Florida after training and living there for two years was bittersweet. I was ecstatic to be coming home and to reunite with family, friends and community. But my homecoming also meant a change of course as far as my skating was concerned.
An injury to my knee cut my competition life short and upon my arrival, I lost my aunt to cancer. A few months later we lost a little girl from Cool Kids, my charity, to cancer as well.
Suddenly the calm, stable life I had grown used to was completely turned upside down. I lost my outlet of understanding life and working through my stress, throwing me into dark waters that I had never experienced before.
As far as skating was concerned, my passion and love for the sport completely vanished before my eyes. I didn’t want to watch it on television, I didn’t want to talk about it and most troubling of all, I didn’t want to lace my skates up and take to the ice. This self-inflicted exile from the sport that had captured my imagination all those years ago, lasted for about two years.
Then one day I was asked to skate in my friend’s charity show out in California. He knew that I wasn’t skating anymore, but thought maybe, just maybe, I’d consider it. I don’t know why, but I said yes right on the spot. Three years from that first show and I am skating again every day. It took a shocking amount of hard work to get back to the level I am at now, having to relearn all of my triple jumps and fully develop my personal style on the ice.
When I skate now, I have a new appreciation for this sport and my ability to be out there in center ice. It seems insane to me that there was a time I denied any connection to figure skating. In 2012, I competed in a professional competition in Japan and performed in multiple shows and tours. In 2013, I once again skated in my friend’s show in California and had a tour in Brazil and Canada, as well as the Disson skating shows that are televised on NBC.
It’s a refreshing feeling to look at my schedule and see it filled once again with adventures in the realm of figure skating. Now a different avenue on the show docket, but one that is full of fun, friends and most importantly, the ice.
I decided to begin coaching about two years ago. This has been quite the experience since I am now on the opposite side of the boards, supporting younger skaters and helping them to fulfill their dreams. I coach a multitude of students ranging in ages from 8-17, beginners and senior level competitors.
It’s such a gratifying experience to watch as they discover their potential. The joy that comes with landing a new jump or simply skating faster grants them a healthy dose of confidence they can carry with them into other aspects of their life. I enjoy facilitating their learning and watching the wonder and exuberance burst around them, reminding me of my early days on the ice.
Between coaching and performing, I also center most of my time around school. When I had first begun my college journey, I attended the University of Delaware with the intention of majoring in exercise science. Training at the on-campus rink made an easy addition of school with my skating. Unfortunately, my first semester was also when a coaching change was made and I had to move to Florida, forsaking my studies.
Upon my return home, I found myself trying to adjust back to student life. I needed a new start, a new beginning. So, after gaining control of my spinning life, I transferred to Towson University, changing majors to English with a focus on writing.
That change has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love to read, but I absolutely adore writing. This intimate form of expression acts as my way to interpret the world I live in, alongside the physical act of skating that allows me to move through the emotions. Both are art forms that have captured my heart and soul.
When I am not performing, coaching, training or attending classes, I am most likely to be found spending time with those close to me. My charity, Cool Kids Campaign, is expanding and I am also involved with a few others in the community. I am surrounded by a wonderful group of friends, but this was also a challenge during my return from Florida. I needed to reconnect with everyone I cared about.
While most of my close friends were around me during my competitive days, we experienced completely different teenage years. When all of us get together, the conversation normally centers around different high school experiences, college parties or nights out. I can relate to them with our nights out, but both experiences revolving around school are much different. My friends and I work around that barrier as much as we can, but it always stands just out of sight.
As you can see, post-Olympic life is really quite normal. A few times a month I get to put on my persona and perform for thousands before returning back to classes, my students, and my family and friends. It is really the ideal life for this 24-year-old.