Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For Flatt, skating and school go hand in hand

When you're a 16-year-old world junior champion, balancing elite figure skating with advanced placement classes, no time goes to waste.

For Rachael Flatt, a 10-minute drive turns into a chance to tackle a trigonometry exercise; a five-minute trip is spent in the back seat doing some extra stretches.

"Everyone tells me the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," Flatt said. "I love my classes and my teachers this year, especially my AP [advanced placement] chemistry and biology classes. My dad is a biochemical engineer, and my mom is a molecular biologist, so I come by it honestly."

Tom Zakrajsek, who trains the teen at Colorado Springs' World Arena, admitted there was very little give in his pupil's schedule.

"Everything is very organized," he said. "It has to be, because she's so intelligent and enjoys school and loves the challenge of AP classes. Academics, plus her skating, take up 95 percent of her time."

In the 1980s, Debi Thomas combined pre-med studies at Stanford University with world and national medals. The 1987 world champion is now an orthopedic surgeon.

While it's way too early to draw parallels, Flatt is intrigued by sports medicine and biomechanics and is "thinking about" eventually pursuing a medical career. The Cheyenne Mountain High School junior is already a pro at balancing priorities and says she loves every minute of it.

Flatt's summer began with a trip to Toronto to work with Lori Nichol on two new programs -- a short to Henry Mancini's "Moon River," the theme from Breakfast at Tiffany's, and a free skate to Debussy selections.

"This is my third season working with Lori, and each new season when I return to Toronto I anxiously await what Lori and Lenore Kay [Nichol's music editor] have in store for me," Flatt said.

Full article.

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