Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Rachael Flatt leads public skate on way to one last nationals

By Joe Paisley Updated: January 3, 2014 at 6:18 am

Rachael Flatt says she is at her best when she is really busy.

She knows. You can trust the 2010 Olympian on this.

Her extracurricular commitments as a junior class president at Stanford and a Alpha Phi sorority member and challenging academic work as a pre-med student is enough to overwhelm most.

Add in a hours of daily training designed to get her back onto the national stage in figure skating and you can understand why busy is an understatement.

But then, someone who has skated at a high international level for most of her 21 years knows no other way.

"I think that is when I am at my most productive," she said. "It's harder for me to focus when I am not really busy."

But it's not all hard work now.

The 2010 Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate is relaxed as she heads to Boston for the national championships, which serves as the Olympic trials, this weekend.

She is excited to begin life after figure skating after about three years of battling injuries. She wants to enjoy this final season before she retires to focus on medical school.

"This is the first nationals I have gone into where I feel relaxed and can just have fun," she said.

Part of her transition to life after figure skating is why Flatt led a public skate Thursday that drew about 110 people to Honnen Ice Arena on the Colorado College campus. It served as a fundraiser for the Memorial Hospital Foundation. She will also serve as a spokeswoman for a community wellness initiative.

Flatt interned at the Olympic Training Center last summer and witnessed ways she can remain involved in sports, especially orthopedics.

"Like figure skating, the medical field is always changing with new technologies and techniques," she said. "I shadowed doctors this summer and I got to see how they worked with athletes and how they helped them."

Flatt can also inspire figure skaters. Some were awed by her. Others had questions.

"I wanted to know how hard she had to work," said Bailey Meehan, 7, of Mark Twain Elementary School.

It takes more hours than a young girl may comprehend. It was made even more difficult by a series of injuries over the past couple of years for Flatt, who placed seventh in Vancouver in 2010 after winning the national title.

She suffered a stress fracture in her right (landing) leg before the 2011 world championships and later suffered an ankle injury. She sat out much of last season after those injuries flared up in October 2012.

But it was memories of the Vancouver Games that prompted Flatt to give the Olympic trials one final try.

"I will always remember the din in that little hallway leading into the opening ceremony when we all chanted USA! USA! And the feeling of representing your country in front of the world," she said. "It is something I will always hold dear in my heart."

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