What an Olympic figure skater can teach us about teamwork
Think you’re under a lot of pressure when you’re preparing for a big meeting or a major project? Just imagine vying an Olympic title, up against the best athletes from around the entire world, with millions of people are watching you.
And as the PyeongChang Olympic games quickly approach, athletes from around the world are preparing to do just that.
So how do athletes prepare for the biggest competition in the world? To find out, Workopolis spoke with Canadian figure skater – and Olympic silver medalist – Dylan Moscovitch about competing on the world stage, preparing for the upcoming games, and what makes a successful team player.
Workopolis: What was it like to compete for Team Canada at the Olympics four years ago?
DM: Competing for Canada in Sochi was a dream come true. I decided that I wanted to compete at the Olympics when I was five years old, so being able to realize that dream 24 years later was an incredible experience. Canada had an amazing team and I couldn’t have been more proud to have been a part of that Olympic family with such inspiring athletes and people.
You won a silver medal at Sochi. What was going through your head when you were on the podium?
That moment was filled with a lot of emotions. It was an overwhelming experience and I knew that it would pass by quickly so I tried to soak up every second of it. My parents were there, front row; the Olympic cauldron was right in front of us; and I was shoulder to shoulder with some of my best friends. So many memories ran through my head: sacrifices, challenges, speed bumps, pain, setbacks, and failures. In that moment it all felt worth it. It was exhilarating.
If you had to pinpoint your favourite moment from that experience, what would it be?
The highlight for me at the last games was standing on the podium and standing at centre ice (both for my opening and closing poses). Just knowing that I had done everything that I could to be my very best for those moments. I skated with freedom and confidence. I believed in my preparation and I had pushed myself beyond all obstacles. I genuinely felt that I deserved to be there and to live each moment to its fullest.
The 2018 Olympics are right around the corner. What does a typical day look like for you right now?
At this point in the season, an average training day for me would include two to three hours on the ice, about 30 minutes of off-ice pair lifts, and some sort of workout prescribed for that day. Each day we have a different plan, be it cardio mapped out with heart rate targets, strength training (alone or with our trainer), or pilates classes.
On top of that, there is a lot of maintenance required for our bodies. I do a 45-minute warm-up before I start training, and have many specific exercises that I do throughout the day to mitigate the effect of old injuries and to prevent further issues. As we get closer to competition, it becomes less about quantity and more about quality. We taper our workload to maximize our energy for on the ice and for the competition.
As a pair skater, how do you build a strong relationship with your teammate?
Communication, patience, and compromise are probably the biggest components to an effective working pair partnership. We are two different people with different strengths and weaknesses, and therefore, different needs. Sometimes they don’t align and it’s important to be able to work together to find a balance so that both halves of the team feel heard and have their needs met.
By doing so we can focus on the task at hand with little friction and without getting sidetracked. We are such different people but without both of us on top of our game, we won’t be successful. It’s all about keeping our eyes on the big picture and working together toward that goal.
How can our readers relate your experience to their own careers? What advice do you have for them?
I think that being a successful athlete and a successful worker have a lot of similarities. As I mentioned to be a good partner, you need to be patient, able to communicate, and able to compromise. Those are all skills you need to be a good athlete and partner, but also a successful teammate at work.
What advice do you have for young athletes out there that dream of competing in the Olympics one day?
If you have a dream, it is always worth chasing it. Not everyone gets to realize all of their dreams, but the real joy and the real reward is in pursuing them. If you put your heart and soul into whatever you strive to achieve and approach it with a good attitude, you will grow as a person and it will always be worth it.
Surround yourself with the right people who can help and support you, and never be too proud to learn from others and from your own mistakes. Never be afraid to fail. That is one of the most essential ingredients to achieve long-term success.
Mia Gordon is a former professional tennis player and a sports broadcaster. Over the course of six years, she has worked for TSN, CBC Olympics, and the Sun News Network. She is now a host, reporter, and producer for Sportsnet and the National Lacrosse League.