Not just skating by

"They're the only kids out of this area that compete in figure skating," said Annie. "It's hard work; there are highs and lows, but they're doing it for themselves."

Olivia is one of the two girls from the North Atlantic Region that has a double axel in her program going into the Junior Nationals competition. More competitive techniques in routines mean higher scores overall for the competitor, but they also mean greater challenges pulling off the tougher parts of the routine.

"She's really been trying the tough stuff," said Annie.

Olivia and her sister work on their craft daily, perfecting jumps and double axels for later competitions during morning and afternoon practices at the Schenectady County Recreational Facility in Glenville with coach Liz Commerford. The sisters also work out at a gym " weight lifting and physically conditioning themselves. "Morning ice" usually runs from 6 to 8 a.m., right before school, and is done twice a week. The girls also skate in the afternoons four days a week.

Olivia said she loves to skate, but sometimes the work and long hours take a toll.

"I want to skate," she said. "But sometimes it's hard to get up."

The girls also balance work with practice, often doing homework before and after skating at the rink. They are able to keep grades up while going to regional events and still find time to have a social life " a part of their lives that their mother has stressed is important.

"They have a good work ethic, but they also have a life," she said.

Commerford praised the sisters.

"I couldn't be more proud of both girls. They work so hard and have such a strong desire to continually improve their skating skills," said Commerford in a statement. "This was one of the toughest groups of competitors we have seen. The fact that Olivia advanced to Nationals is incredibly exciting for all of us, especially in an Olympic year. It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication to get to this point. ... We will be working even harder in the next two months!"

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