Last Saturday, Ella competed in the Life Goes On skating competition in Venice Beach, California. It was her first time to compete at the professional level in WCMX, wheelchair skating. She was the youngest competitor by far, and since WCMX doesn’t segregate contests by age, sex, or physical ability; that meant that she was up against adult men and women. You can either hang, or you can’t. I love that.
The other competitors are familiar names and faces to us now.
and now the Who’s Who lineup includes
She did amazing!
That’s not really big enough…
I think we might need more exclamation points up there.
The day didn’t start off that way. As the crowd grew from a few stragglers to well over 500 people (I’m guesstimating on what I could see), her social anxiety took over and my brave, tough girl started crying. “I wish we hadn’t come all this way,” she whispered as tears streaked down her cheeks. “Then, we could just go home and no one would be disappointed.”
I wiped her cheeks and hugged her. I’ve seen this before, and sometimes it’s too big of a hill for her to climb. She was starting to hyperventilate when one of the other skaters noticed her crying, and came over to talk down her nerves. One by one, the other skaters stopped by and chatted with her, helping to keep her calm until the announcer called her name. (Where else would that happen in professional sports?)
She swiped her cheeks and raced to her starting position.
where she fell forward onto her hands.
The crowd gasped, but she pushed herself back onto her wheels and kept going.
A swoop around, a drop off a high box, before straight drop down into a deep bowl where she flashed a peace sign to the crowd.
She had finished and not died on the spot. We watched the last few runs and then went in search of some ice cold lemonade to celebrate her non-demise.
We thought our day was essentially over except for a pizza and pool party with her sponsor that evening.
We were wrong.
Life Rolls On didn’t place skaters in the traditional 1st, 2nd, 3rd. They chose instead to give out awards for riding the rail, “Best Trick,” and “Balls to the Wall.”
Which is what Ella won -“Balls to the Wall” – because the judges felt that she’d gone harder than any of the other competitors. Which put her in the money, won her this sweet award
and got her interviewed by the BBC
and then she rested
Photo credits – pro pics are from the pros themselves.
Dropping in by Cat Gregory with permission
Ella on stairs by Emily Scher with permission
Ella by Michael Berns with permission
all others are my own