Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
OGDEN — Figure skaters in Ogden kicked off New Year's Eve training Friday for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships the first week of 2022. And at least one of them has his sights set on the Olympics in February.
Ahead of any competition, the stakes can seem high and the pressure overwhelming. But the countless hours of practice on the ice beforehand means everything.
2022 is an especially big year for Mitchell Friess. Depending on this week's results at the U.S. Championships, the University of Utah graduate could represent Team USA at the Olympics in February.
He said "it's a little intimidating" but knows he has put in "a lot of hard work. And a lot of time."
"It takes everything. You have to be able to spin, you have to be able to skate. You got to be able to do all of it," Friess said.
"Once you work at it long enough, it just comes naturally," said Abigail Ross, 17. "But a lot of hard work is put into it."
Ross is a high school senior who has been skating competitively since she was 2 years old and says she could "skate better than I could walk."
The Olympics aren't in her immediate plans. After competing in the U.S. Championships, she plans to focus on preparing for college. And skating her whole life has taught her that mistakes come with the territory.
"Falling is a part of skating, and you can't achieve anything if you don't fall," she said.
Kai Kovar, 15, also started skating when he was just 2 years old and is preparing to compete in the championships next week. He says he's "always had a motivation and passion to be in this sport."
"I feel the hardest part is more of the emotional part. Being able to keep yourself under control. Being able to handle the pressure."
Coach Amanda Kovar knows patience is key for these three athletes. Over the years, she's seen the sport evolve quickly and the level of competitiveness soar.
"We work hard today to be great tomorrow," she said. "You have to just think about going after every competition and doing your best skate."