East Aurora, NY — An ice skater from Western New York could someday play a major role in the Winter Olympics. Right now Kaitlin Hawayek is an ice dancing alternate with her partner for the US skating team in Pyeongchang. And she's an inspiration for local kids who may dream of their Olympic glory.
Just as these little kids were learning how to skate at the Healthy Zone Rink in East Aurora, a little girl named Kaitlin Hawayek of that same community was learning at the age of four and a half.
"My Mom and Dad...they skated growing up and they always wanted myself and both of my brothers to learn how to skate. But they never quite expected me to take to it quite as much as I did. It just was always something from a young age that I became very passionate about," Hawayek said.
That passion and hard work lifted her to national competions and championships as an ice dancer. Now at age 21 with partner Jean Luc Baker, they are alternates for the USA Olympic team and could be called to South Korea if there was an injury or other problem for one of the teams at the Games.
"My partner Jean Luc and I...we've been training consistently ever since we got back from our last competition. So in case that were to happen that we'd be prepared," Hawayek said.
Jessica Roswell, a past competition figure skater herself, helped coach Kaitlin with the Skate Great firm of coaches here in Western New York.
"She had a passion for ice skating. She didn't just like it, she loved it. It was a big part of who she was at a very young age. She was so eager to learn...just took in evey thing that we taught her," Roswell said.
Now Kaitlin and her partner still have dreams with a major goal for her on and off ice agenda.
"Our goal in mind...Beijing in 2022 and you know at that time my partner would be 28 and I'll be 25 respectively," Hawayek said. So you know it all depends on where our hearts are at that time and how our bodies are holding up. But both of us have even said that we could foresee ourselves going on past the 2022 games in Beijing as well."