When American figure skater Gracie Gold competes Wednesday and Thursday at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Erin Coyne, a 13-year-old spectator from Westminster with a special interest in the event, will be paying careful attention.
"I love watching it," she said. "Gracie Gold — all the front-runners," Erin added, going on to put Katrina Witt and Nancy Kerrigan on her list of favorite skaters.
While she enjoys watching the sport, Erin is much more familiar with the exhilarating feeling of performing on the ice, and the anxious feelings off the ice waiting for her scores. A figure skater herself, she has aspirations to compete at a high level, and is well on her way.
At her first regional competition in September in North Carolina, she had the pleasure of hearing over the loudspeaker, "Currently in first place — Erin Coyne."
That announcement came only because she was the first in her division to compete; she ended up finishing 14th out of 16 in the competition.
An eighth-grader at St. John Catholic School in Westminster, Erin is allowed to arrive late every Friday, as long as she maintains her workload and keeps up with her studies.
"Erin is a wonderful student. She's very mature and self-disciplined," Harriann Walker, principal of St. John, said. "She's been on the principal's high honors [list] throughout her entire time she's been in training."
"We encourage students' talents and interests," Walker said. "She comes in energized when she's been up very early practicing. She comes in and does what she does. Everything else, she still maintains."
For the younger students who share time with her on the ice at Reisterstown, Erin is a role model, according to Kirsten Di Fatta, skating director at the indoor sports facility off I-795 in Baltimore County.
"A lot of our younger students look up to her," Di Fatta said. "She's a great skater. We're pretty proud of her."
Erin, in turn, looks up to all the skaters at the Winter Olympics and is looking forward to seeing the 18-year-old Gold, a 2012 World Junior silver medalist, challenge South Korea's Kim Yu-na, Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia and Japan's Mao Asada.
Erin said she enjoys watching Olympic skating greats, past and present.
Kimmie Meissner, a 2006 U.S. Olympic figure skater from Bel Air, is one of Erin's all-time favorites, and the youth has been able to attend two ice skating camps with Meissner.
"She's the nicest person," Erin said of Meissner, now 24, who is working as a research analyst for NBC in Sochi. "She helped me a lot with my spins. It was so cool. It was awesome."
This September, Erin hopes to compete in regionals, again, this time in the intermediate level. A win there could lead to sectionals and from there, nationals.
Her long-term dream is to compete at the qualifying level for nationals, but she takes one day at a time.