Hawaii's next Olympians: figure skater Crystal Nguyen - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii's next Olympians: figure skater Crystal Nguyen

Crystal Nguyen Crystal Nguyen
Kahiapo Tavares Kahiapo Tavares

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

SALT LAKE (HawaiiNewsNow) - It takes strength, grace, and endurance to compete. Above all, it takes a lot of love for the sport.

At only three-years-old, Erica Yokota's teachers say she's already showing Olympic potential.

"She can keep up with the older kids six and up," said Kahiapo Tavares, Skate School Director at Ice Palace.

They moved her to pre-alpha class, I show you, the kids that are older," said Natalia Yokota, Erica's mom.

Also making Olympic strides at Ice Palace - introducing Crystal Nguyen of Kalihi.

The 14-year-old Maryknoll freshman was just a few years older than Erica when she started ice skating.

"I like the speed. It's like, I like skating through and feeling the wind on my face," said Nguyen.

In two years, Nguyen will be old enough to qualify for the Olympics.

And skill-wise, her coach says she's right on track.

"Oh I believe so, 2014, that's what we're looking at," said Nguyen's head coach, Debrah Lauer.

When searching for a potential Olympian, coaches say it's not so much what a skater can do on the ice, it's a trait that can't be taught.

It's that fire on this icy stage, that drive, that sets Nguyen apart.

Her failures are why she succeeds.

"My first competition on the mainland was when I was 10 years old. And I got last place. And another year I came back to the mainland and I got ninth place. And then I kept trying and trying in Hawaii training, and when I went back to the mainland I got fifth."

But only the top four get to go to nationals.

"I was crying and everything so then I came back to Hawaii and I told myself I'm not going to give up."

Sure enough, in 2008, Crystal won the Pacific Regional Championships.

She's the only female single skater in Hawaii to claim that victory. That launched her into the Junior Nationals, where she got sixth place.

Now, it's on to her ultimate target.

"My dream is that in the year 2014 that I can represent the United States and be an Olympian."

And she's getting star training.

Two to three times a year, Nguyen goes to the mainland to see Frank Carroll, the legendary Olympic coach who's trained famous skaters like Michelle Kwan and is coaching current Olympians Evan Lysacek and Mirai Nagasu.

If Nguyen reaches her dream, she'll go down in the books as Hawaii's very first figure skating Olympian.

"I'm going to try but if it doesn't work out then I guess I tried my hardest and I love the sport," said Nguyen.

The kind of love that breeds success, Olympic medal or not.

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