Figure skating might have been her first love, but Collingwood is Elizabeth Manley’s most recent obsession.
This week, we spoke with Manley, 57, former Olympian and life coach.
Q: For how long have you lived in Collingwood?
A: We moved here in February.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born and raised in the Belleville/Trenton area. I’m an air force brat. We were on the base there.
My whole career was in Ottawa.
I lived in the U.S. for 18 years. After I went pro, I was doing a lot of tours and TV. It was easier for me because it all existed in the States.
I moved back here in 2005 because both my parents took ill.
Q: Can you tell me about your experience as a figure skater?
A: I started skating when I was two-and-a-half years old. I skated as an amateur until I won the Olympics silver medal in 1988. I went to the world championships a month later. Then I turned pro.
I was professional until I was 50.
Q: What was it about figure skating that spoke to you?
A: All three of my brothers were hockey players. My dad also was a hockey coach. I was kind of stuck at the rink every weekend. In those days, there wasn’t girls hockey. It was a bit of a competitive instinct from a young age that I wanted to be better than my brothers.
My mom put me into skating and I instantly fell in love with it. I did other sports like track, swimming and gymnastics, but it got to a point where my parents said I needed to pick one.
I always knew it was going to be figure skating.
Q: When you were awarded the silver medal in 1988, how did that feel?
A: Well, I went through a very serious depression when I was 16. It was sport related. I think representing the country when I was 16 — I was competing internationally when I was 14 — I quit skating and I sought help. Getting help and going to therapy made me able to realize there was a person in me and I wasn’t just a robotic athlete.
I got to a point with my skating where it became a job and pressure, instead of loving it.
Getting that help brought the love back not only for the sport, but for myself.
I’m a huge advocate for mental health. I’m a professional speaker now, and an executive life coach. I help others.
Q: What made you want to make the move to Collingwood?
A: I fell in love with it. My in-laws have a house here.
I had gone through some rough times. I lost my mother to ovarian cancer and my father to Alzheimer’s. During that, I lost my marriage.
A lot of things happened to me and I found myself in a position where I needed to reach deep and find myself.
I reconnected with my crush from when I was in my 20s. Now, we’re married. His parents own a house here, but they wanted to spend more time in Toronto with grandchildren and other family. So, we moved into their house to take care of it.
I couldn’t be happier. I’m in a place in my life where I just want peace, and I want to help people.
Collingwood stole my heart.
Q: How are you spending your time now?
A: Now that I’ve moved to Collingwood, I want to spread my wings. I work with organizations, speak with company leadership, and will talk about mental health in the workplace.
I’d like to get my feet wet here and get the word out.
I am working with the Collingwood Figure Skating Club to help with the kids. I do skating, life coaching and motivational speaking about mental health. I’ve spoken at more than 200 schools across eastern Ontario.
We have such a crisis right now with teens due to the pandemic.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like people in Collingwood to know about you?
A: I want to be more involved with this community, and be out there for them.
Manley will be a guest on Village Media’s Up Close and Personal podcast in the coming weeks, which will also be posted on CollingwoodToday.
For our feature, People of Collingwood, we speak with interesting people who are either from or contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature runs on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected].