Virden-based pairs skaters Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers competed for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Paige Lawrence is going from skating at the Olympics to not being in the competitive ranks for the upcoming season.
Lawrence’s pairs figure skating partner, Rudi Swiegers, announced in the spring that he was taking a year’s absence from the sport, leaving Lawrence in search of a new partner. However, the 24-year-old Lawrence, who has lived and trained in Virden with coach Patty Hole for years, came up empty-handed and is now planning not to take part in the competitive circuit this season.
"I figure I’m going to see the year out for sure and wait until next spring, that’s when people look for something new or to do a little change or something like that," she said. "I figure that will be the opportunity I’ll have to find someone then.
"(Not skating this year is) something that I’ve had to accept, as hard as it is. It’s very disappointing. It’s just different, but it can’t be helped and I have to keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason and that good things are going to keep coming out of it."
Part of the challenge of finding a new partner for Lawrence is that she is a clockwise rotational jumper, which is the rarer way to jump in figure skating and limits the number of people she can skate with.
She isn’t planning on going into singles competition either as the Olympian admits the jump portion of doubles wasn’t her strong point and doesn’t feel she would be strong enough to contend in singles on the international stage, which is where she wants to be.
However, Lawrence is not giving up on her skating career. She hopes to return to international competition in the 2015-16 season and will spend this year practising in Virden and helping teach the next generation of young skaters.
"Coming to the rink every day and seeing all the kids being able to train and to work toward their competitive season, it’s really hard to step back and be an aide in their journey," she said. "I have moments where I find it really difficult to have my coach yelling at somebody on the ice and I find myself wanting her to yell at me.
"At the same point in time, it’s different and there’s some positives to it also. I enjoy working with the kids that I am with right now. I enjoy having a hand in helping shape their current competitive careers. I enjoy that and there’s some definite perks of that."
There are also perks to having more free time. Lawrence has been able to spend more time with friends and family this summer, and has even been to the beach a couple times, which hasn’t happened in four years.
Lawrence is starting to develop plans for fall and winter as well. She hopes to do more public speaking engagements, which will give her a chance to travel and tell her story. She’s also looking at continuing her education. Lawrence is part way through finishing a kinesiology degree, but is considering switching to sports psychology. If she can do courses online or by correspondence, she’ll stay in Virden, but Lawrence knows she may have to move to take classes.
While she’s enjoying her free time this summer, Lawrence would give up her more active social life and put her education on hold if she could find another elite-level competitor to skate with. However she’s not going to let it bother her.
"I’ve had a great career and, as badly as I want to continue skating, I know if I don’t find a partner then it wasn’t meant to be for me to find a partner and that there will be another great avenue for myself to explore," she said. "They say when one door closes then another door opens and it will just be a matter of that."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 25, 2014