Mallory Rausch of Ponoka skates her program during a recent competition.

Pressure on Ponoka skater building

  • Nov. 10, 2010 11:00 a.m.

Mallory Rausch is getting better with each year she skates competitively — and that puts more pressure on her to perform well in competitions, and more pressure on her parents to support their daughter’s passion

By Dale Cory

“In figure skating — to be in the highly-competitive stream — you have to devote everything to the sport,” insists figure skating coach Sue Reykdal.

Mallory Rausch is facing enormous pressure these days.

One slip, one stumble, one incomplete spin — and the judges’ marks will reflect the harsh reality that is the sport of figure skating.

Despite the difficulties associated with performing at a high level, and at a young age, Rausch continues to climb the figure skating ladder.

In fact, at the tender age of just 12 years, the emerging Ponoka figure skater is in a make-or-break year — according to her skating coach.

“We have a really challenging year ahead of us, because we want her to do very well in competition. In order to do that, Mallory is skating with three clubs — in Ponoka and Lacombe, and in Red Deer, where she trains with a highly-competitive coach in a more-competitive atmosphere,” says Reykdal, Rausch’s Lacombe coach. “The focus is on developing that end of her skating, as well as the skating skills and dances. She needs to be a little tougher mentally, and her focus needs to improve. She’s still young, and she isn’t always capable of staying focused, or staying positive about where she is at. This year is going to tell us how far she wants to go.”

Rausch certainly shows the desire to take figure skating to a higher level. She especially likes the free skate portion of a competition — with its jumps and spins — and strives to be competitive.

“There’s skills, dance, free skate, and interpretive — and I want to excel at all of them and get my quad gold,” explains Rausch, who has been figure skating since she was three years old. “My biggest goal of all is to make it to nationals. I’m going to try my hardest to get that far.”

It will take a great deal of strength, courage and commitment to advance to the level of skating seen at the national level. And, considering her last pair of skates came in at $1,100, a great deal of money.

“She isn’t as good as she can be yet, and to take her to the next level, it’s the mental aspect that needs to improve the most,” says Reykdal, adamant Rausch displays many skills despite her young age. “She’s a talented girl, and she has lots of athletic ability. She just needs the desire — and the ability mentally to be tough enough to take it to the next level.”

Along with Reykdal, Rausch has had many influences throughout her figure skating career.

”It has been a pleasure to watch and be a part of Mallory’s progress,” says Donna Horlock, who coached Rausch from Can Skate until last season, when Reykdal took over. “Mallory is a dedicated skater who has a strong work ethic and visible determination. She sets high goals for herself and then follows through by working hard to reach those goals. I look forward to seeing how far Mallory’s dreams will take her and wish her continued success in her skating goals.”

When asked what impressed her regarding the figure skating competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Rausch quickly responded without giving the question much thought.

“Joannie Rochet— her performances were amazing,” she said. “I want to be an Olympic athlete. That kind of scares me, but I want to try.”

As Rochet no doubt found out, the better you get, the higher you jump — and the harder you fall.

“There is definitely a fear aspect. When you learn a jump, it’s scary. Then, when you start to grow, your jumps get bigger, and you fall harder. It’s actually really scary,” says Rausch, who insists she doesn’t think of the fear aspect entering a jump, however, “It’s always there.”

Rausch, a Grade 7 student at Diamond Willow Middle School, skates six times a week for an hour each session. The commitment puts a great deal of pressure on hr parents — from a financial standpoint, along with the time and energy to drive the young skater to practices and competitions.

“It takes a lot of organization. My husband and I both work out of town. But you do what you have to do,” says Mallory’s mother Donna, acknowledging the financial burden placed on the parents of an up-and-coming figure skater. “It gets up there. The higher they go, the more money it takes for tests and competitions. It’s better putting money into your kids now than later on when they’re in trouble. This keeps them busy.”

And, it’s all worth it…

“She likes the challenge and that’s what keeps her going. If she sees the older kids doing something, she wants to try it,” says Mrs. Rausch. “When I watch her out on the ice she’s having fun. Mallory enjoys skating. She loves it — and I’ll do anything to back her up.”

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