Saturday, March 14, 2009

Flatt looks forward to L.A. homecoming

According Rachael Flatt, there just might be "something in the water" in Colorado Springs.

The 16 year-old is one of five U.S. world team members who train at the scenic city's mile-high World Arena. Two-time U.S. pair champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker are coached by Dalilah Sappenfield, while Flatt, men's champ Jeremy Abbott and silver medalist Brandon Mroz all train under the leadership of Tom Zakrajsek, who heads a team including associate coach Becky Calvin.

"It's just great motivation for all of us to watch each other and push each other and make sure we do clean programs," Flatt said on a media teleconference yesterday. "We try to keep it a positive atmosphere and I think that really helps.

"Tom pushes us to be our best. He comes up with a lot of fun things to do that keep things interesting, for sure. He's a really good technician and he's had a lot of experience and worked with a lot of different resources getting information on technique, recovery, nutrition. He makes sure everything is there for us."

Zakrajsek, who also coaches former U.S. silver medalist Ryan Bradley and 2008 U.S. junior champ Alexe Gilles, summed up the reason for his success.

"I spend a lot of time with my athletes and I know how to motivate them," he said. "I give each of them what they need."

For Flatt, the 2008 world junior champion, his key ingredient is "a sense of perspective. She's still so young. She's achieved so much so quickly, and there are still things we can work on."

The teen has been the country's most consistent lady this season, placing fourth and second at her two Grand Prix events and successfully defending her silver medal at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Her biggest hiccup was a seventh-place finish at the 2009 ISU Four Continents Championships in Vancouver last month.

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