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Utah girl qualifies for the U.S. Figure Skating Championship

By Kevin Olsen

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8 2013 4:29 p.m. MST

A young athlete will emerge from Orem, by the end of this month. But she isn’t coming from a university and she is three years away from entering high school. Hina Ueno, 12, will compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships being held in Omaha later this month.

An opportunity to compete in the championship will provide Ueno a chance to compete on the world team, or even in the Olympics. Since its start in 1914, the U.S. Championships have been viewed as the most respected event in figure skating. The annual championship has seen past winners that include Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan.

The U.S. Championships act as the final qualifying event to compete on the U.S. World Figure Skating Team and, when appropriate, the Olympic Winter Games, something that Ueno has seen in her future for some time now.

Ueno moved to Utah from Japan eight years ago with her family. She first wanted to compete in the Olympics as a gymnast, but over the years discovered her love for figure skating.

Stewart Sturgeon, Ueno’s coach, described the young athlete as someone with amazing qualities and someone who is intensely determined. One of her routines includes two triple jumps, which can be a challenge for most veteran figure skaters, let alone a two-year contender.

For the past two and a half years Ueno's passion for figure skating has led her to dedicate nearly 20 hours a week to competition and practicing. Her dedication has led her to the U.S. Championships.

The 2013 championship will air live on NBC Sports and Ueno’s progress during the event can be tracked on http://www.usfsa.org and http://web.icenetwork.com. The Omaha-hosted event will be from Sunday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Jan. 27, and will be Ueno's first national competition.

Twitter: @KVNOlsen Email: kolsen@deseretnews.com

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