East Aurora, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Fifteen year-old Kaitlin Hawayek, of East Aurora, will make her second consecutive appearance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships joining an elite group of athletes competing at the national championships to be held in San Jose Calif., January 22-29.
Skaters will vie for national titles in men’s, ladies, pairs and ice dancing. Hawayek will be competing in the Junior Ice Dance event along with her skating partner, Michael Bramante. They qualified for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships by winning the silver medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Midwestern Sectional Championships held in Colorado last November.
Competitors earn the opportunity to compete at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships by placing in the top four at one of the three sectional championships, only twelve teams qualify from the entire United States. The top three finishers at the U.S. Championships will earn a spot on the Junior World Championship team.
Hawayek and Bramante were selected by U.S. Figure Skating to be a part of Team USA after winning the bronze medal in novice ice dance at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships last January. They skated their way to a 4th place finish at the Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Brasov, Romania in September 2011 against some of the best junior-level ice dance teams in the world. Based on their impressive performance in Romania, they were selected to compete at a second Junior Grand Prix event in Talinn, Estonia in October 2011. They were one of only seven teams in the nation sent to international competitions by U.S. Figure Skating at the junior level this season and one of only three teams to be sent to a second event.
When asked about her international experience, Kaitlin replies, “Having the privilege of representing the United States was the most incredible experience of my life. I am so honored to be a member of Team USA. Getting to experience different cultures and meet competitors from all over the world has been amazing.”
Getting to this level has been anything but easy. Kaitlin has been skating since she was four years old. Her training consists of approximately 20 hours of on-ice training plus several hours of ballet, ballroom dance and strength and conditioning instruction each week. The Detroit Skating Club is her home away from home. While Kaitlin’s family lives in East Aurora, Kaitlin trains full-time in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. at the Detroit Skating Club. Her parents alternate time between East Aurora and Bloomfield Hills and the family regroups on the weekends to spend time together.
“Being away from my family and brothers is the hardest thing. Their support means everything to me, I couldn’t do this without them,” Kaitlin says.
Most days you will find her either working tirelessly on the ice or working hard at her schoolwork during her breaks. Kaitlin is a sophomore at Nardin Academy but due to her demanding training and travel schedule she has completed her fall semester through an online curriculum. She maintains an
honor-roll average in all her classes. Her dedication and drive is obvious to everyone around her.
Kaitlin is a life-long member of the Skating Club of Western New York and credits the coaching she received at Skate Great, Inc. with helping her build the skills she needed to succeed. Under their tutelage, Kaitlin earned both her U.S. Figure Skating and Skate Canada Gold Medals in Ice Dance.
“I am very proud of where I came from and the people and coaches who helped me develop the skills I needed to take my skating to this level. They believed in me and they made me believe that I could achieve great things,” Kaitlin commented.