It seemed to many that the cancellation of the World Championships also meant the ISU Skating Awards gala would also be shelved. However, as tragedy unfolded around the world with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the ISU believed it was more important than ever to honor those who had worked so hard in what became a shortened 2019-2020 season.
The Adam Rippon show reached a new crescendo with his joyful waltz through the Olympic Winter Games in 2018. But, as it turned out, it was far from being the closing act for the poster boy of those Games, even though it represented the finish line of a competitive figure skating career that had spanned almost two decades.
It has been an almost meteoric rise to the top for Russian pairs team Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii, who first caught the world’s attention when they claimed the silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Taipei City in 2017. Last season, the St. Petersburg duo captured the European title in just their second season on the senior circuit, serving notice they will be strong contenders for a step on the podium in Beijing.
The final competitive season was a series of highs and lows for Canada’s Elladj Baldé. Concussions and a back injury hampered him every step of the way in the second half of 2017. While many would have thrown in the towel and called it a day, his perseverance paid off with the program of a lifetime in his final appearance at the Canadian Championships. Baldé moved on to a successful professional career and never looked back.
Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson stepped out of the shadows last season, capturing the silver medal at the 2020 U.S. Championships, missing the top step of the podium by less than three points. Two weeks later, the duo placed third in the short program at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul, South Korea, earning their first Championships small medal. They finished fourth overall just 5.65 points shy of third place.
For many athletes, transitioning out of the competitive world is more challenging than any struggle they faced on the field of play. Frequently, they endure this transition in silence, afraid to speak out, which can lead to depression and, in rare cases, suicide. Six former figure skaters share their stories of transitioning from the competitive arena to life beyond the boards.
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