Beacom finds inspiration at Oberstdorf competitionOlympic, world competitor shows unique style at adult international
The mood at last week's International Adult Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany, was jubilant. Athletes from all over the world came to perform, compete and show the world their love of skating. One skater, in particular, turned heads for his unusual and charismatic performances. He also made waves for being the rare Olympic and world competitor to enter the event.
"I thought it would be a good challenge," said Gary Beacom, 54, who represented Canada at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games and two world championships. "A competition is something that sort of drives one to be the best they can be. It was a really, really fun event. It was outstanding."
He won gold in masters (elite) men III free skating and masters (elite) men III + IV artistic. If the schedule allows, he would like to go back next year.
"I inspired a lot of people … and I was inspired myself by the event," Beacom said. "There were some really excellent technical and artistic performances. The enthusiasm of the skaters was contagious.
"I've been in a lot of different competitions, both at the highest level as an amateur and as a professional in the heyday of skating in the '90s. This was just something very different for me. I got a sense that it was more about camaraderie and mutual support."
Beacom conducts seminars all over the world, sharing his knowledge and perspective on skating. He hoped the Oberstdorf competition would be a great place to meet people and speak about his work. The reception he received exceeded his expectations.
"The event in Oberstdorf was a chance for me to show off," he said. "I was really gratified that I had some really encouraging compliments. For me, it was a big confidence boost and a big jolt in the arm just because of the compliments I received on my skating. I felt that I made a big impact."
He is looking forward to giving a master class in Sheffield, Great Britain, this August at a coaches conference. Beacom is fascinated by all aspects of skating -- on and off the ice. Over the years, he has become a master skate sharpener. He conducted a skate sharpening seminar in Cape Town, South Africa, last year.
Beacom lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where he coaches, sharpens skates and does choreography. (He did the programs for fellow Canadian competitor Annette Nymeyer, who won ladies artistic silver III in Oberstdorf.) He has two children: Stella, 12, who skates recreationally, and Garrison, 11, who ice dances and plays hockey.
"[Garrison] says he wants to get into the NHL, so I assume that the ice dancing will eventually take a backseat to hockey," Beacom said.
Beacom, who stays in shape by eating mostly organic food and continuing to work on his own technique, travels the world for his seminars.
"Every seminar is different, but I'm quite the skater dude," he said. "Every summer I ride my motorcycle across the country and I stop at various clubs along the way. [I] spend anywhere from a couple of hours to a whole day with skaters and coaches."
Beacom hopes other skaters of his generation will join him in Oberstdorf in the years to come. He saw Norbert Schramm in Oberstdorf and encouraged him to take part, especially since he lives close by.
"There were some really excellent performances in many different events," he said. "It's nice that there are events for adult skaters of every level.
"It was a real shot in the arm. It was totally inspirational," he added. "I'm looking forward to visiting many of the people I met there at their clubs around the world. I've had invitations to go to Japan. I've never been to Japan. I made a number of contacts in New Zealand and Australia.
"When I go to a club, I like to always be able to offer something new and different. You've got to keep reinventing yourself to keep it interesting. … I have a reputation as a creative individual. So I'm trying to nurture that reputation as much as possible."