Aspiring skaters have dreams that go beyond the Olympics - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Aspiring skaters have dreams that go beyond the Olympics

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Ella Daniels (L) speaks with KTTC's Shannon Rousseau (R). Ella Daniels (L) speaks with KTTC's Shannon Rousseau (R).
Jimmie Santee serves as the executive director of the Professional Skaters Association. Jimmie Santee serves as the executive director of the Professional Skaters Association.
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

The 2018 Winter Olympics kick off later this week with opening ceremonies on Friday.

One of the most anticipated and talked about sports is figure skating.

Three women and three men will represent Team USA in the singles figure skating competition. Being selected is nearly impossible, kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. But the Olympics aren't the only avenue young skaters can pursue. 

Figure skating isn't something skaters pick up overnight. It takes years of blood, sweat, and tears.

"It's a lot like ballet where it's harder than it looks," said Ella Daniels, a figure skater with the Rochester Figure Skating Club. Daniels trains nearly everyday; she's been skating for 13 years. Sometimes the training takes place on the ice and sometimes off. When she's not on the ice she does activities like ballet, jazz, weight lifting, and Pilates.

The senior in high school could call the ice her second home. "I remember growing up at the rink. I'd do my homework here. I made a lot of friends here."

And if the ice is her home away from home, her coach is so much more than someone giving direction. "My coach is Lori. I love her. I've been with her for 10 to 12 years. I call her my second mom."

But after countless hours in a pair of custom white skates, Daniels says the Olympics were never her dream. Instead, she aspired to go to Disney on Ice. 

But no matter which route she takes, it takes a great coach to help propel skaters like Daniels to any professional skating gig.

"These are the members of our coaches hall of fame. Some very famous Olympic coaches," said Jimmie Santee while taking KTTC on a tour of the Professional Skaters Association hub in Rochester where he serves as executive director.

"Coaching is really fulfilling on a much larger area," he said. A former professional skater himself, Santee says skaters can aspire to skating careers besides the Olympics, like Disney on Ice, coaching, skating for a cruise ship or resort, or figure skating director.

"It's such a huge mountain to climb. Even if you can get three-quarters of the way up the mountain, you can call it a good career."

No matter the avenue skaters take, it's not always how good they perform on their best day but how good they are on their worst.

"I've had a whole team of people help me. We all kind of work like a community here," said Daniels.

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