Published in Sports
7 minutes read

I Fell On The Ice, I Looked At The Camera And I Smiled

The story of how I came last at a figure skating competition

I Fell On The Ice, I Looked At The Camera And I Smiled

I grew up in a little village in the Pyrenees mountains, between France and Spain.

At the age of 6, I got my first pair of figure skates for Christmas: a beautifully crafted pair of white leather boots with sharp blades.

It was love at first sight and the very first time I tried them on, I knew it was meant to be.

Figure skating became a part of me: as a litlle girl, I would train in the morning before sunrise l and would go back after class to practice some more. I didn’t have the innate talent other girls were born with, but I had the grit and determination to put the hard work and try again and again.

I was 7 when I joined my first competition. I was wearing a gorgeous black lycra dress with a tulle that had some glittery bits and it made the ice sparkle as I skated. My long brown hair was up in a bun and I felt like a black swan on the ice. The performances were very short, only 2 to 3 minutes and every second was meticulously planned for with different jumps and moves.


Throughout the following years, I participated in many competitions across Spain, France and Andorra. Overtime, I managed to get on the podium and bring home the coveted trophies. Once I even made it to the local newspapers!

However, 30 years later, the competition that I remember most vividly is the one where I came last: it was in Perpignan, in the South of France. I had put all the training and had rehearsed the choreography again and again.

When they called my name, the adrenaline kicked in, as always, and I felt ready to take over the ice ring. Then, something unexpected happened: in my very first jump, a 360 turn in the air, I somehow had a shaky landing and fell on the ice. I quickly stood up and carried on with the performance. I thought it was a one-off and focused on the next jump, and then I fell again. By that time, I knew it was all over, but I continued trying and skating until the end.

I was sad and disappointed, but when the music finished, I went to the center of the ice ring to finish with the bow of gratitude to the public and the jury.

I was defeated and sad, as I picked my furry mascot gorilla King Kong from the ice ring (your team mates would always throw your mascot to the ice ring at the end of your performance).

When all competitors finished, the jury consolidated the marks and it was time for the awards presentation. They called the winners first on the speaker, and from there they called all the participants one by one.

I was the 12th and my name was the last to be called. When I heard “Veronica”, I skated towards the last spot. I congratulated the girl just next to me and I smiled at the camera. I still have that picture.

Sometimes we come last in life, even if we have made the preparation, even if we have put the hard work, even if we have tried our best.

30 years later, I still often fall or come last, and when that happens, I remember that little girl on the ice, smiling at the camera with her bottom wet. And I smile too.