Kristine Musademba spins so quickly on the ice it's a wonder she's not too dizzy to finish her routine. That doesn't happen, she says, because she has practiced two to three hours a day for a year and a half.
"I do [the moves] so much they really aren't that bad," she said.
The 12-year-old from Silver Spring is in Westminster, Colorado, to compete in the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships, which start today.
This is the second time that Kristine, a seventh-grader at Georgetown Day School, has made it to the national championships. She finished ninth in her group two years ago.
She says she learned a lot from that experience and feels ready to compete again. "I realized that all the other girls do weight training and train four hours a day, and [that's] what I needed to do."
When not on the ice, Kristine dances ballet and lifts weights.
"She is very much a perfectionist, and that is why she is so good," said her coach, Nina Stark-Slapnik.
Hard work already has paid off for Kristine. Last month she won the intermediate title at the Southern Atlantic Regional Championships by landing three triple jumps.
Kristine's parents have a tough time keeping up with their only child. Her dad has been in Iraq for a year and a half but calls every other day. Her mom takes time off work to drive Kristine to practices and competitions. "I told her that if that is what she wanted to do, we would support her," said Mila Rey, Kristine's mom.
Training cuts into Kristine's time with friends, but many of them are skaters, too, so they understand. Kristine's best friend, Susannah Eig, introduced her to skating at age 8. She was hooked immediately.
"I just like to feel the ice and the breeze when you skate fast," she said.
She has traveled all over the country to skate and hopes to travel around the world, all the way to the Olympics. I will skate "until I can't stand up anymore," she said.
Win or lose in Colorado, Kristine has something to celebrate: She turns 13 on Saturday.
-- Amy Orndorff