For Caroline Beaupré, representing her country in the Olympics was more than just a dream, it almost became a reality for the former competitive ice skater.
For 18 years, Beaupré, who now lives in Moab, trained and competed in her home country of Canada as a professional ice skater. Her father had set up an outdoor rink at her home in Quebec and purchased Beaupré her first pair of skates when she was only 3 years old.
“I just started skating and really liked it. It felt really natural and I didn’t have any problem picking it up,” Beaupré said. “I started taking lessons, and within a year, I was training with a private coach.”
Beaupré began competing just for fun in casual children’s tournaments at the age of 5. But as the years passed, she became more and more serious about skating until, finally, it became a full-time job. She traveled all over Canada to any competition that accepted skaters in her age range and skill level. She said her goals at that time were to be seen by coaches and possibly make it to the Canadian national skating competition.
“I started thinking about what steps you have to take to get to nationals. And I wanted to go to the Olympics,” she said.
Her first performance at nationals was when she was 14 years old, but the financial burden of keeping up her training regimen was becoming very difficult for her family. Beaupré said it was common to go through multiple pairs of skates each year, and with travel, costume, and training costs, she started working at the age of 16 to help pay for her dreams.
“I was working, training, and going to school at the same time, and I just slowly started growing detached to the whole thing,” Beaupré said. “The way it works is you get recruited by top trainers and coaches to prepare for the Olympic trials. I got recruited, but the financial part of it became too much.”
Beaupré started training other skaters and helping to choreograph their routines to help cover her own expenses for competitions. She already choreographed her own routines and designed all of her costumes, she said.
Still, because of her skill level, top coaches were interested in training with her to prepare for Olympic competition, with some even offering free advice or free training because they wanted her to succeed, she said. But with school, work, and training, it became more than she could sustain.
“It took over everything in my life... the way I looked, what I ate. It became very overwhelming,” Beaupré said. “I didn’t go as far as I had wanted to go with it, but I knew I was growing out of it.”
At 21, Beaupré took the summer off to get a break from the constant training and hectic lifestyle. She never went back.
“I was done. I knew after that summer I was done, and I never regretted it. I don’t even watch it on TV. I have no attachment to it,” Beaupré said. “But the skill never goes away. I put on some roller skates a while ago, and I started going fast and then tried a few spins and little jumps and it was fun. But it was enough for me.”
These days, Beaupré is a self-employed landscaper and gardener in Moab, something she did a lot of with her mother growing up. She helps plant flower and vegetable gardens for local residents, and maintains yards for private customers and storefronts for area businesses. Her new career started after helping an older woman with her yard. Word spread. That was 12 years ago, and compared with ice skating, Beaupré said she prefers landscaping.
“It was always so cold and dark in the ice rink. I spent way too many hours in the box,” said Beaupré. “Ice skating is extremely competitive, and it felt like the level was increasing at a very rapid speed. I always had to train harder to keep improving, but I was improving so fast.”
Beaupré said the best part of ice skating, for her, was the physical demands it placed on her body. Slight in frame and roughly 5 feet tall, she said her body was perfect for the sport.
“I felt very dynamic and powerful. You have to have technique and finesse, and I loved being an athlete,” she said. ”But I loved the artistic part of it – dancing on ice. It was so elegant and graceful.”
Beaupré said she did “a lot of growing up” during her years as an ice skater and doesn’t feel that she missed out by leaving the sport when she did. She said ice skating made her who she is now, and she wouldn’t change her experiences.