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East Aurora skater is Olympics alternate

Kaitlin Hawayek of East Aurora and her ice dance partner, Jean-Luc Baker, will be first alternates in their event for the figure skating team the U.S. will send to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Hawayek and Baker, who train at the Detroit Skating Club, finished fourth in the U.S. championships over the weekend in San Jose, Calif. Their 187.61 score was their best in competition.

The U.S. team selections were announced Wednesday. They include three dance teams, two with Olympic experience. There was controversy over some of the Olympic team selections because they did not follow the placing in the nationals. However, the selections in ice dancing pretty much followed how the competition
turned out.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the Lansing, Mich., Skating Club, who won the ice dancing at the U.S. meet, will be competing in their first Olympics.

Two-time U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and her brother Alex Shibutani, who also train in Michigan, will be back to the Olympics after their second place in the nationals. They were ninth in the 2014 Olympics.

The third U.S. team is Madison Chock of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Evan Bates of Ann Arbor, Mich., the third place finishers in San Jose. They finished eighth in the 2014 Olympics.

Hawayek and Baker finished fifth in two previous national championships before their fourth place last week.

Hawayek, 21, is a former Nardin Academy student. Baker, 24, is from Edmonds, Wash.

Hawayek was introduced to ice skating by her mother in 1999. She began as a single skater and represented the Skating Club of Western New York and was coached by Janie Smith and Jessica Lauria. She switched to ice dancing in 2010 and her first partner was Michael Bramante. They won a bronze medal in the novice event in the 2011 U.S. championship and were sixth at the junior level in the 2012 U.S. championship.

Hawayek and Baker began skating together in 2013 and had strong showings in Junior Grand Prix events before graduating to older

Their most successful competitions were a second place in the U.S. Classic and a third in the CS Golden Spin in 2017. Also, they finished fifth and fourth in Grand prix events.


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