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Lancaster freshman skates to gold

Jordan Bauth seems like your typical smart ninth-grader. She's enrolled at Lancaster High School. She takes advanced classes and has hopes for a career in fashion design someday. But, every day she leaves school early and heads to a nearby rink during what would be lunch and study hall, for an extra hour of figure skating practice.

Jordan is not your typical freshman. Her days don't exactly revolve around catching up with friends or participating in numerous after school clubs. Her days revolve around the ice rink to skate for a few hours and homework (so she can maintain her high honor roll status).

Jordan, 14, skates competitively not only nationally, but as of January, internationally as well.

Like other competitive figure skaters she started out her season going through the qualifying competitions that can ultimately lead a skater to the national championships. Jordan won the North Atlantic Regionals, which were held in Amherst. She went on to finish fifth at Eastern Sectionals in Jamestown, which was one spot too low to qualify for nationals, something she had done the previous two years.

"I was a little disappointed [with finishing fifth] but I knew there was always next year and I could do better," Jordan said.

Shortly after that disappointment, Jordan's mom received a phone call informing the family that Jordan had been selected to represent the United States at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games being held in Innsbruck, Austria.

Jordan could hardly believe the news.

In January, she headed to Austria along with her coach, Lenel van den Berg. Her parents followed later. Going into the competition she didn't expect to place, she had no clue as to how she would do. She just wanted to skate her best.

Jordan placed seventh overall.

"I was really excited to see my scores," she said. "When my music finished and my competition was over I was so happy and ecstatic All I wanted to do there was skate my best and get the scores I wanted. That's exactly what I did. There is no better feeling in the world than finishing a perfect program and accomplishing all your goals knowing that's what you have worked for so long."

Although Jordan placed seventh individually, during the team event she was able to capture a gold medal. Eight teams -- composed of a dance team, one male skater and one female skater --competed against each other. Jordan's team won the event.

Although her skating season has ended, she already has goals in mind.

Jordan said she is grateful to "all my friends and family who supported me along this whole journey. I would also like to thank my amazing coaches for helping me grow as a skater and as a person. They have taught me so much."

Her advice to young skaters: "Just follow your dream ... If you really, really want to do something, you can set your mind to it and make it happen. And never give up."

Isabella Fagiani is a senior at Niagara Falls High School.