Her journey was sometimes painful but mostly memorable. It brought her plenty of fame and a bit of fortune. Now, Rachael Flatt is evaluating her future with The Broadmoor Skating Club.
The Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate has entered a transition period with Broadmoor coach Tom Zakrajsek after a 12th-place finish Saturday at the world championships in Moscow, and she’ll soon be leaving Colorado Springs to prepare for studies at Stanford in September.
A 2010 Olympian, Flatt, 18, will take a family vacation to Hawaii over the summer, work on her triple axel at the University of Delaware’s high performance center, participate in a freshman orientation at Stanford and look for a new coach in the Bay Area. Her parents have put their Springs home up for sale, with intentions of moving back to San Diego.
Flatt aims for a full load of courses in chemical engineering her initial quarter at Stanford, and she plans on competing in the Grand Prix series that runs from October to December. She also has circled the U.S. Championships in January in San Jose, Calif., a qualifier for the Four Continents Championships in February at World Arena and worlds in March in Nice, France. The next Winter Olympics are in February 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
“It is tough to say goodbye to all the great things here in Colorado Springs, but I think it will be a wonderful start to something new,” said Flatt, who finished seventh in the world rankings in a season in which she was the national runner-up and a silver medalist at two Grand Prix stops. “It will be a great opportunity for me to be a little more independent.”
Worlds were “definitely bittersweet” and “definitely sad” for Flatt, not because of a stress fracture in her right tibia that gave her a “lack of belief” in her routines. It marked her last competition under Zakrajsek, who praised Flatt for “continuing to move forward,” as she deferred admission to Stanford for a year. “She has had her best international season.”
Flatt isn’t the first figure skater to hold Olympic dreams while attending Stanford. Former Boulder resident Debi Thomas won national and world titles as a freshman at Stanford in 1986, then won the 1988 Olympic bronze before she earned an engineering degree. Paul Wylie, the 1992 Olympic silver medalist, and 2007 U.S. runner-up Emily Hughes skated at Harvard, and two-time U.S. champion Alissa Czisny did the same at Bowling Green.
Her senior year at Cheyenne Mountain, Flatt tallied straight A’s, even with four advanced placement classes, and she said she has “showed I’m fairly mentally tough when it comes to training at an elite level, as well as maintaining a really good academic track record. … I’m going to be pretty flexible and make sure I do what’s right for my body and my mind when it comes to training for skating. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Does Flatt have high hopes? Can she return to the U.S. podium? Is she capable of making worlds a fourth straight year? “It will be a transition year,” she said. “I’m not expecting anything less than a slightly challenging year. But I’m certainly looking forward to it.”