BUFFALO, N.Y. — One Olympic chapter closes in Tokyo, we're looking ahead to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, which are less than six months away. One of the Western New York hopefuls we'll be watching is Kaitlin Hawayek, an ice dancer from East Aurora. She and her partner Jean-Luc Baker are ranked in the top ten pairs in the world and were Team USA alternates in 2018. Now they're hoping to qualify for their first Olympics in 2022.
Kaitlin says watching the athletes compete in Tokyo gave her extra motivation as she heads into a new skating season.
"I loved watching the gymnastics, and I loved Simone's vocalization for mental health because I don't think it's talked a lot about sport in general and it's a very real topic, so to see athletes that have such a huge platform being able to feel okay talk about that was really powerful. so that was a big high moment for me in these games," Kaitlin told 2 On Your Side.
"Also just watching, like watching the opening ceremonies, and watching the track and field the other day with the ladies winning, and just seeing them wearing their kit, it's just so exciting, because it's so close to reality for me, that being able to see other people live their dream of going to the Olympics, it just inspires me even more. "
Hawayek and Baker live and train in Montreal, where they are working on their routines for the season, which will start in the fall. Off the ice, Kaitlin is a student in Penn State's world campus, a DJ, and has been developing and teaching makeup master classes for performing artists and athletes.