Young skaters dream of Olympic gold, no matter the obstacles

Story highlights

  • As the womens' figure skating competition approaches, many aspiring medalists toil on the ice
  • Parents of three young skaters say dream is worth time, pressures and potential injuries
  • Figure skating teaches skills that can be carried on, one mom says
Like many over-scheduled 14-year-old girls, Presley Chandler has a very busy daily routine. But hers is probably busier than most.
Presley, an eighth-grader in Crookston, Minnesota, has two-hour figure skating classes at least three days a week, not counting the hours she practices on her own. She spends nearly her entire day on the rink each Sunday. If that's not enough to fill her time, she has dance class on Thursdays.
The commitment is worth it, she says. She dreams of making it to Nationals one day.
"That's my ultimate goal -- just once," said Presley, who's now in her 10th year of training. Of course, making it to the Olympics would be a "dream."
It's a dream shared by loads of other children and teens who put in countless hours of hard work practicing on the ice. No wonder: Figure skating easily ranks as the most popular sport in all of the Winter Olympics. On Thursday, aspiring medalists will watch 15-year-old Olympians Polina Edmunds of the U.S. and Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia compete in the women's figure skating finals in Sochi, Russia.
With only 13 figure skaters making up Team USA's "Team A" this year alone, the young skaters know that their competition is steep.
Presley Chandler's skating dream dominates her life and affects the whole family. Lessons start at 6:30 a.m. or earlier and are 22 miles away. Presley often has to choose skating instead of going out with her friends.
"I do spend most of my days skating. People ask, 'hey, do you want to go to this with me?' and I have to say no," she said, "but I'd almost always rather be on the ice."
Physical struggles
Then there's the toll on Presley's body. Last year, doctors found two stress fractures in her right foot, halting skating practi