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Skating helps girl put shyness, lifelong health problems on ice

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2004

The 2004 summer Olympics ended Sunday, but Megan Garoutte didn't watch many of the events. She was busy training for the winter Olympics 2014.

Megan Garoutte is 8 years old and her sport is figure skating. The newcomer has chalked up more than two dozen awards in recreational skating competitions since setting skate on the ice for the first time less than a year and a half ago. She still has a long way to go to reach her goal of becoming world class. But whether or not she makes it to the Olympics a decade from now may be less important than the physical and social benefits she gets out of competing on the ice.

Ice skating has helped the 8-year-old overcome breathing problems she was born with and her shyness in public.

Megan was born more than two months premature and weighed less than three pounds at birth. Her lungs were underdeveloped, and she had a hard time breathing, even with the assistance of an oxygen tent. Her prognosis for survival wasn't good.

"Many times they had to resuscitate her," said Patti Garoutte, Megan's mother. "The doctor told me literally not to get attached to her because she probably wouldn't live."

Megan survived, but still has trouble breathing. She carries a small portable breathing machine with her in case of emergency. Recently, however, she hasn't used the breathing machine much. Her mother credits ice skating for the improvement.

"The skating has actually helped strengthen her lungs," she said.

Competing in front of people has helped Megan get over some of her shyness in public. She's normally shy even around people she knows, her mother said. But she has no problem performing in front of judges and strangers at ice skating competitions.

"She's really shy off the ice, but when she gets on the ice she's a whole new person," said Patti Garoutte.

Megan demonstrated her off-ice shyness after practice at the Soldotna Sports Center on Tuesday afternoon. When asked what she likes about ice skating, Megan answered by tugging at the hem of her dress.

Her mother thinks there's more to the attraction than pretty costumes, however.

"(Megan) told me one time, being on skates was the closest thing to flying she could ever imagine," she said.

Whatever the attraction, Megan's actions speak where words fail. She takes her skating pretty seriously for an 8-year-old. When not practicing on the ice, she does push ups, sit ups and jogs for conditioning. Such commitment impresses her coach.

"I wish I had more kids who work as hard as she does," said Madalyn McEwen. "She's very determined. Give her something to do and she'll work her heart out to do it."

The hard work paid off last month at an international competition held in Minnesota. The annual event for recreational skaters sponsored by the Ice Skating Institute draws up to 3,000 entrants of all ages from around the world, according to McEwen.

Megan came away with three medals: two second place and a fifth place.

It's a little early to tell where all the practice and determination might lead. However, since the competition last month, several coaches in the Lower 48 and one from Canada have expressing interest in training Megan.

Garoutte doesn't know if they'll take up one of the offers, but plans to continuing paying for the ice skating lessons she credits with improving her daughter's health.

"She's very active now. It's hard to even keep her still." Garoutte said.

Skating helps girl put shyness, lifelong health problems on ice

By MARK HARRISON

Peninsula Clarion

The 2004 summer Olympics ended Sunday, but Megan Garoutte didn't watch many of the events. She was busy training for the winter Olympics 2014.

Megan Garoutte is 8 years old and her sport is figure skating. The newcomer has chalked up more than two dozen awards in recreational skating competitions since setting skate on the ice for the first time less than a year and a half ago. She still has a long way to go to reach her goal of becoming world class. But whether or not she makes it to the Olympics a decade from now may be less important than the physical and social benefits she gets out of competing on the ice.

Ice skating has helped the 8-year-old overcome breathing problems she was born with and her shyness in public.

Megan was born more than two months premature and weighed less than three pounds at birth. Her lungs were underdeveloped, and she had a hard time breathing, even with the assistance of an oxygen tent. Her prognosis for survival wasn't good.

"Many times they had to resuscitate her," said Patti Garoutte, Megan's mother. "The doctor told me literally not to get attached to her because she probably wouldn't live."

Megan survived, but still has trouble breathing. She carries a small portable breathing machine with her in case of emergency. Recently, however, she hasn't used the breathing machine much. Her mother credits ice skating for the improvement.

"The skating has actually helped strengthen her lungs," she said.

Competing in front of people has helped Megan get over some of her shyness in public. She's normally shy even around people she knows, her mother said. But she has no problem performing in front of judges and strangers at ice skating competitions.

"She's really shy off the ice, but when she gets on the ice she's a whole new person," said Patti Garoutte.

Megan demonstrated her off-ice shyness after practice at the Soldotna Sports Center on Tuesday afternoon. When asked what she likes about ice skating, Megan answered by tugging at the hem of her dress.

Her mother thinks there's more to the attraction than pretty costumes, however.

"(Megan) told me one time, being on skates was the closest thing to flying she could ever imagine," she said.

Whatever the attraction, Megan's actions speak where words fail. She takes her skating pretty seriously for an 8-year-old. When not practicing on the ice, she does push ups, sit ups and jogs for conditioning. Such commitment impresses her coach.

"I wish I had more kids who work as hard as she does," said Madalyn McEwen. "She's very determined. Give her something to do and she'll work her heart out to do it."

The hard work paid off last month at an international competition held in Minnesota. The annual event for recreational skaters sponsored by the Ice Skating Institute draws up to 3,000 entrants of all ages from around the world, according to McEwen.

Megan came away with three medals: two second place and a fifth place.

It's a little early to tell where all the practice and determination might lead. However, since the competition last month, several coaches in the Lower 48 and one from Canada have expressing interest in training Megan.

Garoutte doesn't know if they'll take up one of the offers, but plans to continuing paying for the ice skating lessons she credits with improving her daughter's health.

"She's very active now. It's hard to even keep her still." Garoutte said.



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