Nicole Rajicova: Team USA Oct 13, 2021 18:48:20 GMT
Post by Admin on Oct 13, 2021 18:48:20 GMT
Her love for Figure Skating ended in so much hate that she threw her skates out of the window. But now she is back on the ice, and loving it again. Slovakia’s Nicole Rajicova has overcome serious challenges – and now she has a message to share.
Rajicova, 26, can look back on a successful career. The American-born Skater represented her parents’ home country Slovakia since 2011, and placed as high as sixth at two ISU European Figure Skating Championships, and she competed in two Olympic Winter Games in 2014 and 2018. But then something went wrong. In 2019, Nicole disappeared from the scene.
“After my second Olympics, about three years ago, I took my skates and hid them from sight, I didn’t even want to think about the sport. There was some sort of hatred, I thought I was done for good,” she said. When her parents switched on Figure Skating on TV, she would leave the house. What went wrong?
“My body gave up on me. My brain totally gave up on me,” Nicole recalled. “I just remembered finishing that 2018 season and something in the back of my head said, whatever you're doing, it just can't keep going on like this anymore. During my last few seasons, I dreaded going to the rink every day. It would take me half an hour to turn my brain off and convince myself to train – I’d tell myself, well, I have a big competition in one week, and if I want to go, I have to train no matter what. It was very forced, and I struggled a lot with eating disorders, but I didn't realize it was an issue until I stepped away.”
In Figure Skating, body image and the fixation on weight and outer appearance play a major role and they can become dangerous, especially for young female athletes. “It's a top topic,” Rajicova said. “These kinds of issues are at 100% prevalent in our sport. I struggled with many of these things in my past and unfortunately, it's not one of those things where you can just kind of wake up one day and you're out of it – though of course, I’m working on it. It's really, really sad, it's really, really difficult.”
Rajicova believes that part of the problem comes from the pressure that Skaters put on themselves while part of it comes from the outside such as coaches, officials, fans or media. “Since we are high-performing humans, we receive a lot of feedback. Mostly positive and constructive, but the few negative remarks we hear linger in our heads,” Rajicova shared. “Our sport is based on physics: if you fluctuate in weight, even a couple of pounds, or half a kilogram up and down, it inevitably affects your performance that day. Even in practice, if you are a bit lighter, you spin a little faster in the air. Even just that premise opened the door for negative thoughts that often escalate to more severe issues. To add to that, when other people made sly comments about one’s body or weight, it would become subconscious nature to fixate thoughts around this.”
The Skaters themselves are a tightly knit community and usually support each other, as Nicole pointed out. “So, when there are comments that come up like, 'I don't feel so good', another skater would always pipe in and say, ‘oh my goodness, don't be ridiculous. You look amazing.’ I've never heard of any skater take another one down, we’re always very supportive of one another. So that's really wonderful and I treasure that. But external comments are always prevalent, whether it is someone involved in the skating community, or someone who's just an outside observer. There was always something said, whether personally to me or to other skaters - 'oh she gained weight, she looks like she's not in shape’ or ‘oh she’s doing really well, she looks like she's in shape.’ Everyone knows what that means. In the past I've taken a lot of these comments to heart. Now I've done a lot of work to just think, well, it's none of anyone else's business to worry about my weight except my own. But again, I'm 26. When I was 16, I was not thinking like this.”