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I have to be reminded to remove my guards from my skate blades, that's how nervous I am.
"Alex! You need to take your guards off!" I am startled, but I take them off with shaky fingers. I also take off my jacket to reveal a magenta colored dress with an a-symmetrical skirt and a halter-top neckline. I should be shivering, after all, I am in an ice rink, but for some reason, I don't feel anything.
I look up into the stands to see my mother, father, and younger brother sitting. My dad gives me a thumbs up before standing and walking down to get a better view of the ice where the ceremony will be taking place.
"Skaters, please take the ice and stand on the red line." I look at my coach with a hint of worry in my eyes. "You're going to be fine. You already completed the hard part." I giggled before taking the ice with my friends who were just as nervous as I was.
We skated to the red line in silence. The only sound was the scratching of our blades against the ice as we stopped and stood. It was only about thirty seconds of waiting, my coach told me later, but to me, it seemed as if we stood on that red line for ten or fifteen minutes, waiting for the announcer to call our names for the podium.
But wait, I'm ahead of myself.
It was six A.M. when I took the ice, wearing black athletic pants and an over-sized sweatshirt. I stroked laps around my solo ice, listening to my iPod that was cranked a little too loudly in my ears.
I stretched at the wall before performing the two programs I would have to do later on. The Cha-Cha was first up, and I heard the peppy, South-of-the-border music ringing in my ears. I ran several patterns of it before engaging in the other dance: a Hickory Hoedown. Yes, it is as dreadful of a dance as it sounds, for there is the twanging of guitars or banjos in the background and every step has to have an arm movement in which you must look like a cowboy (or girl). I ran patterns of that before leaving the ice at seven thirty and preparing to go to a different rink to compete.
I put my makeup and dress on before hopping into my mom's car and being whisked off to the Colorado Springs World Arena, where the competition was to take place. I had a light case of the butterflies, but not nearly what one would think I would have had seeing as I was going into Nationals.
After stretching and touching up my makeup a little bit, I proceeded to tie my skates and walk over to the doors where I would enter. I surveyed the ice in awe, for it was much bigger and had more seating than my rink.
I took the ice around ten for my Cha-Cha warm up. Basically, I had five minutes to warm up a couple of laps and run through my dance one time to music.
I skated a flawless dance, with more character, my coach said, than I had ever had in practice. I took the ice again at about eleven for my Hickory Hoedown, which was also skated better than I had ever skated it before.
And now, it's back to the ceremony.
It was only about thirty seconds of waiting, my coach told me later, but to me, it seemed as if we stood on that red line for ten or fifteen minutes, waiting for the announcer to call our names for the podium. "In fourth place, "Ryden Nelson!" I clapped and cheered for one of my best friends, and I could hear her parents and sister cheering in the stands. But I knew I wasn't on that podium. Ryden was in third after the Cha-Cha, and she had been knocked down a place after the Hickory. I was in fifth post-Cha-Cha, so I was done for.
"In third place..." I looked at my other friend, Lauren, who was standing next to me, and bit my lip. She knew this meant I didn't think I had done well, but she squeezed my hand anyway. "Alex VanHausen!" I looked up at my coach, for I though this was a dream, and she motioned for me to take my place on the podium. I looked at my mom and dad in the stands as they cheered and looked as happy as ever. I didn't ever hear who won second or first, all I cared about was how excited I was to have done a personal best for my ice dancing career.