Countdown to the Olympics: Local athletes lace up their skates

(WEAU) – Sunrise continues the countdown to the Olympics as hundreds of athletes are ready to shoot for gold in Sochi, Russia.

WEAU’s Courtney Everett goes inside Hobbs Ice Arena to catch a glimpse of why local athletes are lacing up their skates.

"If I could I would practice every day,” says 14-year-old Emma Lauer of the Eau Claire Figure Skating Club.

Strength, agility and finesse, are just a few of the traits needed to be a figure skater.

"It's such a combination of technicality and also artistic and its not only physical, its mental as well,” explains Lauer.

For 14-year-old Emma Lauer, the sport has been her hearts passion, since she was young.

Lauer says, "I started private lessons at about kindergarten. I first started in the ‘Learn to Skate Program’ with the Eau Claire Figure Skating Club."

"It’s one place I can be alive and have fun and stuff with my friends,” says 11 year old, Kate Mathias of the Eau Claire Figure Skating Club.

For Kate Mathias, it’s a life that’s fun especially when working on combination spins and jumps.

"I like jumping and then that feeling where you know you're in the air. It's like you're flying,” says Mathias.

"People who don't skate, don't really understand that the program that they're seeing are polished and been practiced for months and months and months beforehand,” says Lauer.

While programs may look easy, it requires hours of practice with coaches.

"I love when a student gets a new skill. When they've worked really hard at getting something and finally that light bulb goes off in their head and it’s like oh my goodness now I get it. The first time they land an axel, it's probably one of the most exciting times in a skaters career because it's the first jump where you go around more than one time,” says Figure Skating Coach, Nancy Kirst.

For these skaters, the Olympics remind them of skills to work on and gives a greater appreciation for hard work.

"They're good at presentation and I want to work on that,” says Mathias.

Kirst says, "Most sports in Olympics when you get to that echelon, you have to really dedicate your life to it and give up almost everything for a period of time anyway."

"For me I just want to be the best that I can be,” says Lauer.