When Katelyn Hackett came off the ice after competing in the 30th Annual Amherst (N.Y.) Invitational in November, the figure skater didn’t believe she had done very well because she had gotten out of sync with the music.
However, after watching the other skaters, Katelyn felt better about her performance.
“I think I did the best in the end because some of the girls fell,” the Brookfield Middle School fifth-grader said.
The judges agreed, awarding her gold medals in two categories, compulsory and basic six with music.
“She was spot on, as far as a grandmother can tell,” said her grandmother, Lou Ann Jones, who gets Katelyn to practices and events.
The Amherst Skating Club competition was Katelyn’s first, and she had only been ice skating since March, prompted by an ice show at the Ice Zone in Boardman.
“I liked the jumps and how graceful the girls were,” Katelyn said.
When she first strapped on ice skates, there was a similarity to roller blading, something she had done since she was 2.
“When I first got on the ice, it kind of felt like roller blading, but not exactly,” Katelyn said. “Now, when I try to roller blade, I can’t because I don’t have the toe pick and I don’t have edges so I can’t spin and jump.”
Sarah Cammarata saw Katelyn at a free skate and offered to be her coach. A benefactor stepped in to help pay the expenses.
“It’s not a very cheap sport and children outgrow their skates too fast,” Jones said, noting Katelyn’s skates cost about $200.
Katelyn’s skating repertoire includes waltz jumps, half flips and toe loops. The toe loop, in which she rotates once in the air, is the most difficult maneuver Katelyn can perform.
“You can’t land on your other foot,” Katelyn said. “You other foot has to stay very still and you have to land on your edge.”
More maneuvers to learn include a full flip and an axel, “which is the hardest,” she said.
Katelyn, who plays flute in the fifth-grade band, practices three days a week and up to six hours at a time.
“My feet, when I take off my skates, they’re numb,” she said of the longer practices. “I bruise my knees a lot. I recently just hurt my ankle.”
The daughter of Greg Hackett and the late Tiffany Jones-Hackett has started teaching skating to younger children and enjoys choreography. However, she has a very personal goal: performing in the Olympics.
“If nothing else, she can get into coaching, ice shows, if she doesn’t make the Olympics,” Jones said. “We’ll shoot for the Olympics.”
Katelyn next competes in March in Kent, when she will participate at a higher skill level than she did in Amherst.
Although Katelyn is very hard on herself and her assessment of her own skills, she does best when she remembers what Cammarata told her before she performed in Amherst.
“My coach just said, ‘Have fun,’ and I had fun, Katelyn said.
That attitude helps explain why Katelyn will be pulling for Ashley Wagner when Wagner performs this February at the Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
“She’s not like the other skaters, who just compete,” Katelyn said. “She goes out there and has fun and performs.”