Buffalo native Kaitlin Hawayek figured she had seen it all in her career as a competitive ice dancer. But she’ll be the first to tell you that this year’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships went right to the dogs.

“We didn’t have an audience,” Hawayek said this week from her home in Montreal. “There were cardboard cutouts in the stands instead of actual people. It was weird, but nice in a sense that you don’t usually get to have dogs and animals in the audience. We had a lot of dog cardboard cutouts.”

Hawayek, a dog lover, laughed at the memory. Cardboard cutouts and all, the nationals were a memorable and rewarding experience for Hawayek and her long-time dancer partner, Jean-Luc Baker. They won a bronze medal at the event, which was held two weeks ago in Las Vegas.

As any athlete or entertainer could tell you, it’s a boundless joy to simply perform during the pandemic. Hawayek and Baker finished third in the nation for the third year in a row, putting them in very good position to qualify for the U.S. team for next year’s Olympics in Beijing, China. ………. read more here