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Hingham woman and partner vie for Olympic skating spot

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  October 17, 2013 04:52 PM

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All photos courtesy of Steve Babineau, TD Garden

Gretchen Donlan and partner Andrew Speroff at the sneak peak preview at TD Garden on Sept. 27.

In the weeks leading up to the selection of the 2014 US Olympic figure skating team, one would think the contestants would be nervous.

Yet for Olympic hopeful and Hingham native Gretchen Donlan, the focus is not on the outcome, but on the performance.

“I’m one of those people, I don’t concentrate on competitiveness and results and people who make what team, that’s all secondary and after the fact,” she said. “It’s out of my control. I just want to skate my absolute best, and whatever happens, happens.”

In January, Donlan will be performing with partner Andrew Speroff, from Colorado, at the US Figure Skating Championships in Boston. The competition is one of several that judges will choose from when choosing the Olympic team

Donlan and Speroff are no strangers to competition success. The pair has seen numerous successful runs to enable them to compete at this level, and in early October, placed first in a Slovakian competition.

They skated in the senior pair category for two years before that, yet this is the first time the duo will compete during an Olympic year.

The idea alone is exciting, Donlan said; it’s every little skater’s dream.

“My hopes are high,” Donlan said. “I definitely believe we have the potential to be on an Olympic team, whether it’s this year or another. You have to believe it will be true, give yourself a chance.”

The 4’11”, 19-year-old has been skating since she was 6 years old, and started in the Basic Skills Program at the Skating Club of Hingham from 1997 through 1999. Donlan competed in singles from 2005 through 2009, winning the 2007 U.S. intermediate title.

Gretchen_Andrew_Action.JPGIn 2009, Donlan joined with Speroff, a now 5’10” 24-year-old from Colorado Springs.

Since then, the pair has grown in their skills, placing eighth overall at the US Championships in 2011, fourth in 2012, and sixth in this year's competition, which occurred in January.

Come next January, Donlan and Speroff will compete against approximately 14 other teams. Those along with dozens of others who have already competed in qualifying competitions, will all be vying for two team spots on the Olympic roster.

The pair will perform both a short and a long program they have been working on for months, a routine they even premiered a sneak peak of on Sept. 27 at TD Garden.

From now until the competition in January, Donlan said her and Speroff will practice on tightening and perfecting their routine, though the training sessions will dwindle down to let the pair prepare for competition.

The pair also has another competition in November in Austria.

“I’m excited to always go and travel places. It’s such a reward for all the hard work we put in,” Donlan said.

The 19-year-old also will be focusing on school in the interim. A sophomore at Boston University, Donlan said she has learned to balance school life with her skating schedule, though it might take her more than four years to graduate.

“It’s definitely balanced. It’s hard but for the most part I love being in both worlds,” she said.

For more information on the competition or to procure tickets, click here.

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