Two 12-year-old skaters are making a name for themselves in the U.S. Figure Skating world.

COURTESY PHOTO - Alena Budko and Tia Hilbelink are skating this week in the U.S. Figureskating Championships. Both girls have been skating since they were 5 years old.Two Hillsboro-area figure skaters are making a name for themselves at the national championships this week in Detroit, Mich.

Young skaters Alëna Budko, of Hillsboro, and Tia Hilbelink, of Bethany, are competing this week at the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The two are up and comers in the world of competitive figure skating. Budko and Hilbelink received silver medals in their respective categories at the competition.

The championships are the nation's most prestigious figure skating event, and serves as the final qualifier for the U.S. World and Olympic teams.

This is Budko's third time to the championships. The Hillsboro skater has dreams of making it to the Olympics one day.

"I'm very, very excited," she said. "I feel very excited to finish my season strong with Nationals and making it there. Being in the top 12 of the novice ladies. Being able to perform my programs.

Skaters compete based on their skill level. Olympic-level skaters compete at the professional level. Budko skates only two levels below that, known as the Novice level, with her eyes set on rising in the ranks over the next few years. Budko hopes to try out for the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Hilbelink skates in the juvenile competition, one level below Budko. This is Hilbelink's first time competing in the national championships.

"I love just being able to come to the rink every day and work at something," she said. "It helps with my confidence. Sometimes I'm not able to achieve something, and then I do. It feels great."

COURTESY PHOTO - Tia Hilbelink, 12, scored a silver medal in her division skating at the U.S. Figureskating Championships in Detroit, Mich. this week.Budko and Hilbelink began skating at age 5 and fell in love with the sport. Budko skates six days a week, putting in hours on the ice each morning, along with workouts and other training exercises.

"I like to express myself on the ice," Budko said. "it's my place to really act. I just keep on pushing myself to try new things."

"I'm free on the ice," Hilbelink agreed. "I love going fast."

Speaking with the Tribune before her flight to Michigan, Budko said she was putting the finishing touches on her routines.

"I'm doing a bunch of program run-throughs and training all my jumps," she said. "I want to have everything for my performance."

The competitions also allow Budko to interact with world champions and professional figure skaters.

"It's very cool," she said. "I get to see what I'll be doing in a few years. I'm able to skate with higher level skaters and I'm able to look up to them."

By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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