Gliding around the world on ice
No, it's not hockey, but synchronized skating.
Synchronized skating is an ice sport where a team of 20 girls, 16 of which actually skate, compete in a free program (where the skaters can showcase more emotions, and interpretations) and short program (where the skaters showcase more technical aspects of skating.)
Milne, a second-year Fashion Merchandising student, is an incredible ice skater who's a part of the number two ranked synchronized skating team in the world, NEXXICE (pronounced nexus). NEXXICE senior team has won three national champions in the past three years, as well as two bronze medals in the last two world championships.
Milne wasn't always a national champion synchronized ice skater, though.
“I was a free skater,” Milne said when asked what she did before synchronized skating. “I was in pre-novice ladies competitive. Then, I just needed a change. I loved skating, but I wasn't happy with singles.”
Earlier in the year, NEXXICE visited Mexico City where they got to visit the biggest outdoor rink in the world - accommodations and everything paid for.
Milne and NEXXICE then went to France, where they placed fourth, and Oshawa, where they won nationals.
Soon Milne and the team will be heading off to Croatia for Worlds looking to improve on the bronze they earned last year. She's also travelled to Budapest, Hungary; Milano, Italy; and, Boston, Massachusetts. The traveling isn't all glitz and glamour as some may suspect.
“We start in May where we go to Boston for a week, and we train our programs with a choreographer, dancer, pair's team, and everything. We'll train from 9 am to 10 pm, and come back and train what we learned.
“It's kind of cool [traveling around the world],” Milne explained. “We kind of say its all work and no play. We'll get an afternoon to go out, shop, and see some cool stuff, but we aren't there to gallivant around Europe, we're there to skate.”
While she gets to venture the world, little time is spent having fun as Milne and the team train hard preparing for their next competition. Even though synchronized skating might be made fun of by some, the amount of dedication and work is unreal.
“Four to five times a week we do a three-hour practice on ice. Afterwards, we'll go to the gym floor for an hour and a half to do the routine to make sure timing is exact so when we go to the ice, there are no disasters.
“I don't sleep that often,” Milne chuckled after I asked how often she sleeps. “I just need around six hours, and I'm good.”
Depending on the day, she will either have to travel all the way to Waterloo or Burlington to practice. Plus she and the team work with a personal trainer - weights, cardio, abs, etc - as well as doing modern dance. Milne's dedication is no joke, as she even takes her diet seriously. Walking with her, we passed a bake sale with cheap and delicious baked goods, but with a smile on her face said, “No extra cals thanks.”
“I don't eat any bad foods,” explained Milne. “You want to portray yourself as an athlete, especially when we go away because we're all in Canada wear. I'm not going to sit there eating French fries, and be like ‘oh yeah, I'm a Canadian athlete!'”
With all her time invested into skating, she explained her life as “juggling a career and school.” Even while missing the parties, the cookies, the chicken wings, the college life, and everything in between, she wouldn't trade any of it for the world. And even as I asked questions about her, she rarely attributed her success, both in skating and school, to herself.
“My teachers are really supportive, and they're actually helping me,” said Milne. “They've been very accommodating. They would let me hand things in early, or if I was away, I could e-mail it to them.
“And our team is very strong. You're only as strong as your weakest link, and I don't think we have any weak links. Even coach said that she had a hard time picking who should rotate or not.”
As I poured questions onto her, as many others do, she smiled gracefully and answered with no hesitation. No ego, but pure humility. A humbleness many athletes, and people in general, lack presently. Despite the jetlag, the lack of sleep, and all the work, she always smiles—a true, athletic role model.