bencohenIt is hard to believe that I stopped skating almost two years ago. So much has changed in my life since then.

I am entering my second year at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond where I am studying mass communications. I was never a strong student in high school and, like many kids, just barely tolerated my classes. Since entering college I have surprised myself by making honor role my freshman year, and now I can’t wait to start my classes this fall.

My life has been pretty full of activities since I began school. I am coaching at IceZone in Richmond a few days a week. I’m also working at my school’s radio station as a DJ and promotions director, so here is a shameless plug. Listen 24/7 at www.WVCW.org (my show is on Thursday nights at 8pm).

As far as sports and exercise are concerned, I began bicycling last winter in Richmond, and am gearing up (pun intended) for various Ally Cat races on my track bike. Just watch the movie Quicksilver and you’ll understand.

Last fall I was invited to participate in a ski-racing camp in Vermont with the University of Pennsylvania. I had always skied, but never with a team; it was a blast. Over spring break I flew to Banff, British Columbia to ski on more challenging, steep terrain. Recently, I had the opportunity to backpack across Europe for several weeks. The experience has inspired me to pursue a semester abroad next summer.

People often ask what it is like to give up something that was such a big part of my life – what it is like to stop and do something else. I tell them that there is nothing else quite like skating, and, looking back, I appreciate how simple and straightforward life can be while training. Your day is predictable and full of physical activity. With the right coaches your goals are clear and practice expectations are well understood.

The second question I get is, “do you miss it?” Of course I miss it, as anyone who loved the sport would. There is nothing like the thrill and high of competing, the one chance to show off all your hard work. There was never much need to think about the world when competing – life was very focused. I find the everyday is much more interesting now, much more fulfilling

I’m not yet sure what’s in store for my future. Richmond is great, but I want to move north to Philadelphia or perhaps Boston for graduate school. Sports psychologists often encourage skaters to lead a balanced life. For me that balance lies outside of the competitive world of dance.