Rachael Flatt to skate during college

When two-time U.S. Championship silver medalist Rachael Flatt skates later this month at the 2010 nationals in Spokane, Wash., her focus will be on making the U.S. Olympic team. But until a week ago, Flatt was in the same mode as her high school classmates, putting her effort into the college admissions process.

“Officially done with all of my college applications,” Flatt tweeted to her more than 1,500 followers on Dec. 29. (To follow her, go to www.twitter.com/RachaelFlattUSA.)

The list of schools that Flatt applied to includes nine of the best institutions in the country. “I applied to the University of Denver, UCLA, Stanford, Princeton, Duke, Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth,” Flatt said Thursday during in a teleconference with the media.

She also visited Columbia and Tufts, although she did not apply for those schools.

“I applied for this coming year, entering as 2010 freshman,” Flatt said. “I expect to go into some college but definitely skate throughout my entire college education. But I’ve toyed with the idea of having a gap year or deferring for a year. I think we’ll just kind of have to wait and see what happens this season following nationals and hopefully the Olympics. We’ll see – but I certainly plan to keep skating during college and we’ll see where it takes me.”

When asked if looked at facilities close to the colleges she applied to, she said “Oh absolutely, of course. We definitely looked into several colleges and made sure that there was a rink nearby, a suitable training center that would be easily accessible. We certainly took that all into account as we looked at colleges.”

Several of the universities are near notable training facilities, most notably UCLA which is near both the Toyota Sports Center where 2009 World Champion Evan Lysacek and 2008 U.S. Champion Mirai Nagasu are based, and the East West Ice Palace in Artesia, where 2007 World Junior Champion Caroline Zhang trains.

Emily Hughes, the last minute replacement for Michelle Kwan at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, has taken a semester off from her studies at Harvard to focus on making the Vancouver team. The former national silver medalist trained at the Skating Club of Boston while in school.

Flatt will graduate from Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., later this year. Rather than opting for home schooling like many elite skaters, Flatt attends four Advanced Placement courses every day, including calculus and French. School something that has helped her keep balance in a life filled with demands — including an endorsement deal with AT&T — brought forth by her skating career.

“I think it’s nice for me, after practice or something at a competition, to go back to the hotel and take out a book I need to read for English or something or bring out my calc text book and finish up some problems,” Flatt said. “Just to be able to take my mind off of it, that’s always a nice distraction.

“But I think it has also kind of helped me get through this season and skating because there have been so many distractions especially because of the upcoming Olympics. I think it’s been nice to have that keep me normal, keep me sane a little bit. Other than that, I think it’s been beneficial to my career so that I’m able to shift gears quickly, from skating to school or vice versa.  I think it’s been a nice experience.”

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