Jacki Munzel may be getting a second chance to skate in the Olympics, it was revealed on Jan. 6, at the age of 50. Munzel has carried the dream as she practiced 8 to 10 hours a day and did whatever she could to make it a reality.
Of course, that included putting immense strain on her body to stay slim and slender–the way she was expected her to look. Munzel has worked very hard for a second chance, and it comes after the pressure resulted in an eating disorder that ironically prevented her from competing in the Olympics, and cut her dream short.
Munzel was a figure skater, with international experience and realistic aspirations of competing in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. In an effort to maintain a trim figure — she weighed 110 pounds despite her 5-foot-7 frame — she developed a severe eating disorder. When she realized she wasn’t going to make the 1984 Olympic team and would have to shoot instead for the 1988 Games, she gave up on that Olympic goal.
“I quit, I couldn’t do it again,” she said. “I was at the worst of my worst. I was done. I knew I couldn’t survive another five years.”
Munzel’s eating disorder was so severe, it took more than a decade before she finally overcame it through counseling and the support of her sister. Although she still skated recreationally and now is a power skating instructor for NHL, IHL and college hockey players, those Olympic figure skating dreams had changed to regrets.
Well, making the Olympic team at age 50 in a discipline you have never competed in before is a pretty ambitious goal, especially when you’re a working mother in Long Beach, N.Y., a town that is a very long way from the nearest long track facility. But after much training and sacrifice and overcoming everything from an injured hip labrum to a concussion (as well as substantial damage to her home from Hurricane Sandy), Munzel qualified to at least compete at the U.S. Olympic trials.
She finished 13th out of 20 in the 3,000-meter race last week with a personal best time of 4:23.54 seconds, then finished 19th in the 1,000 and 16th in the 1,500. She was set to compete in the 5,000 on Wednesday to compete for her second chance.
If Munzel doesn’t make the team Wednesday, she can take considerable pride in having competed at the trials, which is inspiring enough. Plus, there is always 2018.