How do you not break bones? Former Olympic skater talks tricks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- How many times when you're watching the Olympics do you think, "I couldn't do that if I practiced 100 years!" Most of us are quite amazed watching the athletes, especially when they crash or fall down and get right back up and keep competing. Ice is doggone hard. How do you not break your bones?

Kimmie Meissner competed on the U.S. skating team in Torino and was World Champ in 2006 and the 2007 National Champ. She said she remembers one of the very first thing she learned was "to fall down properly."

She said it may sound sort of "silly," but there are techniques. She said the key is "don't tighten up," even though your natural instinct is to stiffen up. She said you don't want to straighten your legs. She says it's important to keep your arms out, most of the time.

It's really a balance between fighting not to fall and "giving into gravity."

And maybe this might surprise you. Meissner said she looks at other Olympic sports and can't imagine doing them. She said the beam in gymnastics "terrifies me."

At the Olympics, Meissner said one of the hardest parts was dealing with the TV commercial breaks. Wouldn't you know it, but right before her long program, the action had to stop for an ad break. "I had to wait a long time ... like a whole 'nother day. For me it was like just having to stare at the ice," she remembers.

Tough on the nerves.

But for reassurance, like many athletes, she said she has her own superstitions. "I always put my left skate on first and take my right skate off and then left skate off." She said one time, she was rushing into a show and had a "rough skate" because she broke her routine.

Another tough part? It's just the sheer pressure of having "two shots to impress the world," she said. Meissner said in figure skating, you have a short and long program, and "it's insane" to think she spent ten years of hard work to reach top competition and the opportunity is so quick.

Meissner, always smiling and peppy in the interview, said she loves skating. Her other passion is boosting up children with cancer. She gives soft caps which say, "Cancer Fears Me."


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