Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flatt plans to savor Vancouver experience

Like lots of other young athletes, Rachael Flatt leads a double life.

One week she's the cool, collected competitor, striking poses and hitting jumps to the strains of Rachmaninoff; the next, she's just another kid sitting in French class.

"She's awesome," said Lizzy Hyde, Flatt's friend and French conversation partner at Colorado Springs' Cheyenne Mountain High School.

"Everyone knows she travels a lot, and she might be out of school for a week, but she never talks about her skating unless you ask her. I don't know how she manages to get it all done, but she never seems stressed. She's just a lot of fun."

When Lizzy and Rachael aren't conjugating verbs, they're usually talking about their college applications.

"We're both waiting to hear," Hyde said. "It's amazing, the group Rachael applied to. I hope she'll get in to one of her top schools."

Three days after Flatt won her first U.S. title in Spokane last month, her two worlds collided when Cheyenne Mountain's entire student body of 1,400 flooded into the gymnasium to celebrate her win and send her off to the Vancouver Olympics in style.

"We were all so excited for her," Hyde said. "I think she was a little overwhelmed."

"We have what's called championship schedule for teams that win state, and the principal, Dr. John Weishaar, decided since I won nationals and qualified for the Olympics, they would have one for me," Flatt said.

She watched a tape of her winning free skate for the first time, but it wasn't all fun. Triple jumps, no problem; speaking in front of the whole school, that's tough.

"Dr. Weishaar spoke, and then the President of the Broadmoor Skating Club John LeFevre spoke, and then I had to make a speech," Flatt said.

"It was more nerve-wracking than going out to compete at nationals. I didn't want to make a fool of myself. It turned out okay because the leaders of the assembly started a chant; the freshman yelled 'go' and then the sophomores yelled 'for' and the juniors 'gold,' and then the seniors 'Rachael.' It gave me chills."

Full article.

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