When the 20-year-old took the ice last weekend at Flushing Meadows' World Ice Arena as part of Ice Theatre of New York's (ITNY) Summer Youth Concert Series, she continued a tradition that stretched back nearly 15 years.
"Part of what we do is give young skaters the opportunity to perform just for the joy of it," said ITNY founder Moira North.
"Both Emily and her sister [2002 Olympic champion] Sarah performed with us in shows at Rockefeller Center when Emily was just wee. Now that we're presenting other young talent, it's so nice she's coming back. The young skaters were thrilled."
It's back to the future in other ways as well. The 2007 U.S. silver medalist is taking a year off from her studies at Harvard University, leaving Cambridge in favor of the Hughes family home in Great Neck, Long Island, although she may return for a few weekends.
""I'm going to miss school a lot, but I'll visit every so often," Emily said. "My friends are supportive; my old roommates said there's always a futon waiting for me."
Of the six Hughes siblings, Emily will soon be the only one in full-time residence. Younger sister Taylor leaves for her freshman year at Tulane University in two weeks, although father John says, "Everyone is always in and out."
The skater is training full-time at Syosset's Iceworks with Bonni Retzkin, who began putting her through her paces when she was just three or four. And, just as she did at the beginning of her senior career in 2004-2005, she'll have to earn her way to the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships by competing at qualifying competitions this fall.