Skating rings around the rest of us
|Peter Biver ’98 and Megan Bania ’15
The satisfaction that athletes take from their sport often comes in moments of solitude rather than in front of cheering crowds. Personal fulfillment that results from long hours of training stands as the ultimate reward.
Peter Biver ’98 and Megan Bania ’15 are at different stages in their figure-skating careers, yet in many ways their stories of passion and dedication are running parallel courses. Biver has reached high levels in competitive skating and is a successful coach, while Bania is early in her journey and also has her sights set on a coaching career.
Biver ramped up his training regimen exponentially to prepare for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last January in San Jose, Calif. He and his student/ partner, Rita Fehr, trained up to five hours per day on and off the ice, five or six days per week, in preparation for the senior pairs competition.
“When you have a passion that is deeply rooted inside you, that you love so much that you want to practice it every day, the benefits from the sport are intertwined in your life,” says Biver, who coaches in St. Paul and Stillwater, Minn. “Regardless of the results, it’s really that internal treasure that you have from knowing you’re giving everything you can and making the most of your circumstances.”
The national meet was Biver and Fehr’s first competition together at any level. Although they finished at the bottom of the 13-pair field, the result was unimportant compared to the personal triumph of the journey.
“In the end, all you remember is the journey,” Biver says. “I have great memories when I look back. It was grueling and difficult, but I’m so glad I pushed myself. It pushed me way beyond to a whole new place that I had never been before.”
Bania fell in love with skating at a learn-to-skate program when she was 8 years old. She found her comfort zone in the increasingly popular synchronized figure-skating niche in eighth grade, and in 2011 served as assistant captain on the national champion Intermediate Synchronized Skating team with the Fond du Lac (Wis.) Blades. The discipline calls for 16 skaters to perform together, requiring shared dedication by all members of the team.
“Getting into synchronized skating was the best thing I ever did,” says Bania, an English major who would like to pursue a career in book editing and publishing. “I learned dedication to a sport, and that you can’t give up on something when it starts to get hard. You have to press through that.”
Bania would like nothing better than to follow a skating path similar to Biver’s. She has taught learn-to-skate programs since her freshman year of high school at the Cornerstone Community Center, which also happens to be the home ice for the St. Norbert College hockey teams. She now serves as assistant director of the program.
“Going to St. Norbert and having Cornerstone as our home rink is great,” she says. “I’ve been going there since I was 10, and I can tell you who all the managers and janitors are. It’s home to me. I walk in and flick on the lights.”
Bania also has progressed to the junior freestyle level in individual skating, advancing to the highest levels in two categories: dance and moves in the field. Some of her fondest memories, however, have nothing to do with competition.
“I was home-schooled, so I was able to skate in the afternoon,” she says. “There would be only one or two others on the ice; most of the time my sister and one other skater. That was priceless to me. You learn how you can pour yourself into it when it’s just you on the ice.”
Going forward, Bania has her sights set on coaching. “It’s my passion,” she says. “I can’t stay off the ice. Ideally, I’d like to become certified to coach, and I would love to coach synchronized skating.”
“Figure skating is a very lonely sport,” Biver says. “It’s not just about making it to the Olympics. That’s like winning the lottery in figure skating. We can all lead fulfilling lives without winning the lottery, and that’s possible in figure skating, too.”
Nov. 4, 2012