Wooster teen on his way to U.S. Figure Skating Championships
STRONGSVILLE, OH (WOIO) - Matthew Nielsen is 13 years old and on his way to his first United States Figure Skating Championships in Kansas City.
The Wooster teen trains five days a week several hours a day. He's one of 12 in the country vying for the Intermediate Men's title.
The 8th grader qualified for the coveted competition after winning a bronze medal at the sectional competition a few weeks ago in Colorado.
"It was like a dream come true because I've been working on this for like four years," he said. "It finally all pieced together and it worked out."
Coach Chris Martin says the teen is a natural and has the determination to win -- not to mention a program packed with two double axels and two triple jumps.
"He's incredibly aware and incredibly talented. He is able to visually pick up a lot and apply it," Martin said.
I caught up with Matthew where he trains in Strongsville. It was kind of a walk -- or should I say skate -- down memory lane. I, too, was a competitive ice skater. My partner Frank Singley and I were the first African American Ice Dancing team. We made several trips to Nationals, winning a bronze medal at our final National Championship competition together. So it seemed fitting to share some advice with Matthew on what it's like to compete on the National platform.
"Just be yourself, relax, and have a great time," I told him. "And capture the moment."
A moment that means performing in front of thousands of people. It takes years and countless hours of practice to make it to this level.
Matthew said he wants to beat his personal record.
"My overall goal would be probably to go to the Olympics," he said.
The skater's mom admits she is a little nervous, but says it's an experience the family will cherish.
"It's a very proud moment, Mathew's worked so hard all year. This has been his goal to get there, so it's just overwhelming. It's exciting," said Christine Nielsen.
Matthew hopes to bring back a medal to Cleveland, but says he just wants to get out on the ice and give it his all.
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