All that practice and money and coaching, when do you get to be a "real skater"?
The first time I heard this was when I was complaining to the Big Guy, "I could skate my figures if the ice was better."
He said, "You're a real skater now. You always blame the ice, it's never yourself!"
The next time I heard it was when I bought a horridly expensive, beautiful skating jacket to replace my old white, canvas jacket. When I walked in the dressing room one of the women exclaimed, "You're a real skater now!"
The first time I felt I was a real skater was after a lesson when I fell several times. Not only did I just pop up and do the element again without hesitation, but after the lesson I couldn't really remember what I fell on---because it wasn't that important. "I'm a real skater now!" I thought.
Oh, you can talk about competitions, and medals, and tests. But I don't think those are the high moment of being a real skater. I don't think you'll ever know when that moment comes. Sometime, somewhere, after you've done a particularly smooth but difficult piece of footwork, or demonstrated absolute control over your edges, or have executed a particularly beautiful program in practice, a coach may turn to another coach and say, "Y'know, that's a real skater."