Homophobia and shame pushed Stephane Vachon out of ice skating competition at age 17. Now 37, Vachon is burning up the ice again. He placed first in the adult men’s masters competition and first in pairs free skating at the second ISU Adult International Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany, June 1-3.
After winning top honors on an international stage, Vachon is skating on air.
“Even though it was an open competition, there were a lot of gay skaters,” Vachon said. “For me, when I get on the ice, I really want to do a great performance and give it all I’ve got. I want the audience and the judges to enjoy what I have to offer them.”
Featured in a Real Athlete profile earlier this year, Vachon shared the remarkable story of his comeback to skating.
“It finally feels like I am living my dream of being an international athlete,” he said. “After giving up my dream at 17, it’s the best feeling to be living it 20 years later. It is just about discovering who I am and what I can do. It’s just so wonderful. I finally feel alive and so proud of me for living my dream at my age, not giving up though it’s been really hard to come back.”
The Canadian skater returned to the ice less than two years ago after a nearly 20-year hiatus. He’s been able to reach peak competition form in an astoundingly short time. And he just keeps getting better.
“I think that was the best performance of my whole life,” he said. “I got the highest marks I’ve ever gotten from the judges. What I’m really happy about is that each competition keeps getting better and better as far as my level of difficulty and performance.”
Vachon tore up the men’s masters free skating II / III division with an overall score of 42.32. Second place was more than 14 points behind him.
It was a closer competition in the masters pairs free skating competition. He and his Canadian skating partner Jan Calnan won by a narrow margin.