In a world where young athletes usually like to try a number of different sports, Caylie Blake has never been swayed away from the rink, where she loved to spin and jump in the cold air.
The 16-year-old Corner Brook native is the only figure skater from the west coast named to suit up for her province at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.
Blake got her start in figure skating at age 4, and she said it just became a routine for her as she progressed with every lesson, so she never gave any other sport much consideration.
She’s had friends insist she join them in another sport, but she always felt like she was doing what she loved, so she didn’t want anything to interfere with her skating.
“I just never lost interest in it. I knew I could go somewhere with it, so that just made me love it more,” Blake said Wednesday as she enjoyed a day off from her Level 2 studies at Corner Brook High because of a winter storm forecast for the region.
The rink became her second home and she spends every day of the week doing something to help her progress, whether it’s falling dozens of times on a jump before she nails it or pumping iron in the gym to keep her physical fitness where she needs it to be to keep up with the demands that come with the sport.
She couldn’t imagine a life without skating. She figures she’d be somewhat of a couch potato if her skates were taken away from her, but that’s not a concern of hers because as long as she can walk she will keep doing what it takes to be her best.
Punching long hours comes with the territory for those who pursue excellence in their respective sport and, in Blake’s case, a lot of travel out of province because she trains in Montreal during the summer months and travels to every major competition during the skating season.
It’s no big deal for her. It’s a life she loves, so she’s willing to do what it takes to achieve success.
Nobody has ever put pressure on her to stick with the sport, or tried to get her to give it all up. Her parents, Tony and Charlene, support her in everything she does with skating, but have often reminded her that she can give it up at any time if she feels like she doesn’t have the passion anymore.
She admits there were a number of times when she got frustrated and wondered if she was better off just throwing in the towel. Her love for the sport always won that mental battle and she’s happy she found the strength to keep going.
“It was only because I was either too stressed out or missing school because of it, but overall I knew that if I did quit it would be a bad decision,” she said.
Seeing her self-confidence grow along the way is what helped her stay focused. She’s going to work hard over the next few weeks to ensure she’s ready for the Games, but she has no grand illusions of being on the medal podium and just wants to enjoy the experience because the Games will be her biggest stage in her skating life.
Blake knows it’s not every day somebody from this province goes on to do amazing things in sports, but she has been inspired by fellow skater Katelyn Osmond in her desire to take her game to the highest level she can.
Osmond is a native of Marystown and a Canadian women’s skating champion, so Blake believes anything is possible if she puts in the amount of hard work required to make it happen.
Skating is her life. It’s what makes her happy. She embraces everything good that comes out of the long hours.
Red Deer will be her place to shine and she’s proud to represent her province. It’s a reward for all those long hours of training, those nasty bumps and bruises, the hugging and crying, and those times when she thought she wanted to give it up, but stuck with it.
There are only so many skates left before she has to look at life after skating, when she figures she will tackle a career as a physiotherapist.
It’s not about winning for her. It’s about being her best and celebrating a sport that has defined her as a person and has helped prepare her for bigger and better things in life.