The 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics are just 31 days away, and 17-year-old Marian Central Catholic High School senior Sarah Hogan will have her eyes on Bradie Tennell. Hogan trained with Tennell, who secured her Olympic spot for Team U.S.A. with her first-place win at nationals.
Hogan knows what it takes to achieve success. At an hour when most high school students still are deep in sleep, she arrives at the Crystal Ice House in Crystal Lake while it still is dark. She skates for two-and-a-half hours before returning to Woodstock for a full academic day that often includes dance team practice.
It was at the tender age of 2 that Hogan first laced up a pair of skates – gliding on two tiny blades at a time when most toddlers still are working to master walking. Inspired by her mother, figure skating and synchronized skating coach Michelle Hogan, Sarah Hogan wanted to be on the ice, and so her journey began.
Skating started out as a recreational sport for her, but at 8 years old Hogan committed to a more rigorous skating schedule. She competed with the Chicago Jazz Synchronized Skating team out of Rolling Meadows from 2007 to 2011 as well as with the Chicagoland Ice Theatre from Crystal Lake from 2010 to 2014.
She understands well the strain of competing under pressure. At age 10 she represented Team U.S.A. through Chicagoland Ice Theatre for the International Theatre On Ice competition held in Cape Cod, MA., competing against Russia, Spain, France and Ukraine, among other countries.
“I don’t think I understood the gravity of representing our country, but when I look back on it, it was an incredible experience,” Hogan said, reminiscing.
Currently, Hogan competes in the ladies test track for Wagon Wheels Figure Skating Club. She quickly realized that since skating is not a school sport, she had to be that much more dedicated and organized with her time.
“I am the only skater at my school. A lot of my friends think that figure skating is just like ballet on ice, but I try to tell them that I have to have the strength of a weight lifter, but the grace of a ballerina,” Hogan said of how she explains the often-misunderstood sport. “And I have to be at the rink a lot. It is hard to understand if you aren’t in the sport,” she said.
While time management might appear to be one of the most difficult aspects of the sport since figure skating, ice time is not always easy to find, Hogan said that it is the mental stress of competitive skating that is the most difficult. “When you’ve worked on a jump and continuously have not been able to land it, it is hard mentally to get over that,” she said. That stress is more than compensated for through competitions and performances. “When you get to show off what you’ve worked so hard for, it is a great feeling. It makes it all worth it.”
Hogan said that she would not be the skater or the person she is today without the support of her mom and her coaches, Lars Jenson and Melissa Wasz.
She will attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and hopes to double major in psychology and criminal justice while competing in synchronized skating and singles intercollegiate figure skating test tracks.
As far as Tennell and the Olympics go, Hogan knows figure skating becomes a bit more popular every four years, but she hopes some of the newfound interest creates lifelong skaters.
“Skating is all about having fun. All of the hard work is worth it in the end. The rink is the happiest place. You can be one with yourself,” she mused. “And, in the end, you just do the best you can do – and have fun along the way.”