His days start early; up about 5:30 a.m. and then about an hour later leave for a 20-minute drive from Anjou in the east end of the island of Montreal to a rink in Ste. Julie, Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River.
Off ice work with instructors from different disciplines ranging from ballet to creative expression often start his work day.
Then my son Liam and his ice dance partner Mylène Girard put on their blades.
I am continually impressed by their work ethic and discipline.
No parent could ever force the kind of focused intensity from a son or daughter that I witness even in their warm up stroking exercises.
Desire, ambition, purpose or just pure love of the sport, call it what you may, motivate them every day to push themselves towards perfecting their routines.
By one p.m. both Mylène and Liam are off the ice.
As university students their studies come next.
In our family we recognize the importance of a sound education and so years ago agreed that as long as our son was pursuing a higher education we would subsidize his skating.
At some point athletes all face the fact that their sports life will end. An education will smooth the transition to whatever future path they choose.
Most families of elite athletes that I know understand that for their children’s dreams to be realized the whole family has to be involved.
The higher up the increasingly steep competitive ladder an athlete goes, the more expensive it gets. Little can be expected from sports organizations until an athlete reaches the very top ranks of the sport.
Liam’s day ends back at one of several rinks in the greater Montreal area.
There he works with aspiring young skaters.
The dollars he earns help cover costs like the $100 an hour flamenco lessons that he and Mylène took in order to more thoroughly prepare for the Original Dance component of their program this year.
Mylène and Liam have dedicated hundreds of hours along with their coaches Julie Marcotte, Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon to creating their program this year.
Next week in Vancouver, they will join similarly dedicated skaters from across the country at the 2008 Skate Canada National Championships.
All will put their hopes and aspirations out on the ice for everyone to see.
In ice dance a whole year’s work will translate into a couple of minutes of a compulsory dance routine, a two and a half minute original dance and a four minute free dance program.
Both Mylène and Liam are approaching this pivotal competition with a confidence that comes from knowing they have done the best they can do to prepare for what awaits them.
There are many unforeseen things that could influence the results but as seasons veterans they will take what comes. They are prepared.
We know that an array of pivotal challenges confront all of us.
This past week I heard one oil industry commentator talking about $200 for a barrel of oil.
What would that do to the price of food for Yukoners let alone all the other necessities we bring in like fuel oil?
Are we prepared to deal with the coming changes?
There are no lack of voices guiding us, coaching us on towards a just, sustainable global future.
“What we thought of as isolated pathologies, scarcities of work or hope or security or satisfaction, are not isolated at all,” notes Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute (http://www.rmi.org in a Wikipedia profile, “in fact they’re intimately related, they’re all caused by the same thing, namely the interlocking waste of resources, of money, and of people.”
The implications for us of this continued waste, resource depletion, climate change, the growing global gap between rich and poor and a myriad of related issues are dramatic.
How do we get ready to deal with them?
Maybe we can take inspiration from our athletes and with dedication, determination and clear focus, day by day, work towards another possible world.