Meet Team USA: Rachael Flatt

Rachael Flatt is the 2010 U.S. Champion. After finishing fifth in her senior debut at the 2007 U.S. Championships, in Spokane, Wash., she won two silver medals, then came full circle with her first gold when the event came back to Spokane in January. Here is what you need to know about Flatt heading into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada:

Name Rachael Flatt

Age 17

Birthday July 21, 1992

Birth place Del Mar, Calif.

Hometown Del Mar, Calif.

Training Town Colorado Springs, Colo.

Coaches Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin

Choreographer Lori Nichol

Getting her start Flatt began skating at 4-years-old when her dad took her to the mall to shop for a birthday gift for her grandfather. They came home with skating lessons instead. “I don’t know, maybe now he thinks of my skating lessons as a present,” Flatt said with a smile.

International personal bests Flatt’s highest total score of 174.91 points is from 2009 Skate America, where she won the silver medal. Her short program personal best 60.16 is from the 2008 World Junior Championships. Her best free skate score came when she received 116.11 points at 2009 Skate America.

Key results 2010 U.S. Championships, 1st;  2009 Skate America, 2nd; 2009 Cup of China, 4th; 2009 World Championships, 5th; 2009 Four Continents Championships, 7th; 2009 U.S. Championships, 2nd; 2008 Cup of Russia, 2nd; 2008 Skate America, 4th; 2008 World Junior Championships, 1st; 2008 U.S. Championships, 2nd; 2007 Junior Grand Prix Final, 2nd;2007 Junior Grand Prix Germany, 2nd; Junior Grand Prix Austria, 1st; 2007 U.S. Championships, 5th; 2006 U.S. Championships (junior), 1st

Triple threat Flatt needs to perform multiple triple-triple combinations in Vancouver to have a shot at the podium. At the 2010 U.S. Championships, she was one of two skaters to receive credit for a triple-triple, landing a triple flip-triple toe in the short program and the free skate.

It takes a team Although Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin travel with Flatt to competitions, she also counts Janet Champion, Erik Schulz, Eddie Shipstad and Christy Krall as coaches. All six have worked with her throughout the season.

Expert opinion Flatt has been mentored by 1976 Olympic Champion Dorothy Hamill since February 2009. Hamill chose to work with Rachael due to Rachael’s consistency, work ethic, and bubbly personality — all of which are reminiscent of Hamill’s career over thirty years ago. “I’m thrilled and honored to be working with a legend like Dorothy,” Flatt said. “Her outgoing personality and endearing smile touched millions of Americans in a way that I can only hope to emulate. Dorothy is an amazing role model and I look forward to learning from her experience of handling the pressure of being ‘America’s Sweetheart.'”

Conquering the queen At 2009 Skate America, Flatt won the free skate, upsetting 2009 World Champion Yu-Na Kim, who is called “Queen Yu-Na” by fans. She nailed seven triple jumps in her “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” program to Kim’s three.

Olympic addict Flatt tried not to miss a second of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. “I was glued to the TV. It’s such an amazing event to watch, especially when the athletes are at the peak of their careers,” she said. “I think I skated a little bit better then because I was so motivated by seeing other people’s dreams become a reality.”

Smarty pants A member of the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Scholastic Honors Team, Flatt is a senior at Cheyenne Mountain High School, where she takes four Advanced Placement classes. She has been named to the Principal’s Honor Roll for straight-A students. She is also the 2008 recipient of Cheyenne Mountain High School’s Athletic Excellence Award for Outstanding Academic and Athletic Achievements at the state, national or international level.

College bound Flatt applied to nine colleges in December 2009 and plans to enroll in fall 2010. “I applied to the University of Denver, UCLA, Stanford, Princeton, Duke, Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth,” she said.

Graduation globetrotting Flatt’s parents Jim and Jody are taking her to Italy for her high school graduation present. They plan on going to Florence, Tuscany and also Como.

Mingling with McBride Before country superstar Martina McBride performed a December concert in Colorado Springs, Colo., she stopped by the World Arena to chat Flatt for one of her “Postcards from the Road” for CNN. “It was extremely cool to meet Martina,” Flatt said. “She is very nice. And, its funny how petite she is. We thought she would be much taller. Martina is the perfect size for skating.”

She’s no dope Flatt is one of the faces for the new “I compete clean” campaign for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency along with other 2010 Olympians and Paralympians including alpine skiier Lindsey Vonn. Flatt, who appears in a public service announcement, encourages athletes and coaches to take the pledge to compete clean or coach clean at www.usada.org/icompeteclean/take-pledge/.

Athlete Ambassador Flatt was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as one of the Athlete Ambassadors for the  2010 Team for Tomorrow Humanitarian Relief Fund. Through the fund, athletes will visit children’s hospitals and schools to spread the Olympic Ideals and donate service hours to Habitat for Humanity.

Reading is Fundamental In December 2008, Rachael teamed up with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s oldest and largest children and families’ literacy nonprofit organization, to encourage kids to read. Flatt is an avid reader who lists her favorite book as Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.

Animal lover She has two Old English Sheepdogs, Fred and Ethel, named after television characters on the I Love Lucy. “We used to have Lucy but we had to put her down in December of last year, she was eight,” Flatt said.

For more information on Flatt, visit www.rachaelflatt.net

Become a fan of Flatt on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rachaelflattusa/

Follow Flatt on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rachaelflatt/

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