hawayek baker olympic

If anything happens to one of the U.S. Olympic ice dance teams in Pyeongchang, South Korea, phones in Western New York may start ringing. Kaitlin Hawayek, a 21-year-old East Aurora native, is an alternate to the Olympic figure skating team. She and partner Jean-Luc Baker of Seattle are staying in peak condition during the Games in case they are needed.

“It’s tedious, because it’s like, ‘why are we training for something we’re not going to,’ but you never know,” Hawayek said this week during a rare visit home. “It very rarely does happen, but I have a friend who, probably back eight years ago, was sitting in a bar watching football on TV and the team already left for the world championships. He was a first alternate, and they gave him a call and they’re like, ‘you need to get on the plane tomorrow morning, you’re going,’ and he hadn’t been training because he didn’t expect to be going. And say he had been training a little bit harder, the results might’ve been better. He always tells me that story.”

“The likelihood of something happening is very slim, but just you never know,” she said. “My partner and I have the mentality that we always want to be ready, just in case, so we keep training as if we were going to the Olympics, basically.”

Hawayek and Baker took fourth at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last month and qualified as alternates based on the strength of their seasonlong performance. Their event begins Monday in Korea…… read more here