What if you could spend your very last day on earth doing exactly what you want? Yvonne Dowlen, a 90-year-old competitive figure skater had that experience.
She spent her final breaths on the ice, sliding, twirling and feeling the familiar cool breeze on her face.
Born in 1925, the lifelong Denver resident learned how to ice skate thanks to weekend trips to the mountains with her parents.
Her talent and passion grew to a point where she became an international performer in the Ice Capades. After that, she taught others how to skate in Colorado.
“I guess some people can direct their lives, but I kind of just let mine happen,” she told Boulder-based filmmakers in a short documentary titled, “Edges.”
Katie Stjernholm and Jonathan Hiller from Balcony Nine Media took interest in her story not because of her longevity in the sport, but because of her resiliency in life.
At 80, Dowlen was hit by a van as she was driving to the rink. Despite a brain bleed, 10 days in the hospital and a handful of doctors who told her she would never skate again, Dowlen laced up and returned to the ice two months later.
Then at 88, she suffered a stroke and had to relearn many of life’s most basic skills. Still, she was back at the rink, using skating as a form of therapy.
Even at 90, Dowlen skated five days per week, and she never retired from competition. Two years prior to her death, she traveled the country winning medals even though she was competing against people 30 years younger than she was.
“What you do with your life, and what you find enjoyable with your life is up to you, and I think it’s wonderful if you can follow things you like to do in your life,” she said in the film.
Now that we’ve told you about Dowlen, it’s time to see her in action, thanks to Balcony Nine.