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The Inside Edge: Skater doubles as novelist

Midwestern Sectional junior champ Tim Koleto dreams of one day being published

Tim Koleto competes at the 2012 Midwestern Sectional Championships.
Tim Koleto competes at the 2012 Midwestern Sectional Championships. (Todd Conley)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(11/29/2011) - Tim Koleto, the newly crowned Midwestern Sectional junior men's champion, has an additional dream: He wants to be a writer.

"I've wanted to write pretty much as long as I've been reading," he told us last week. "I started writing at 14 or 15 -- I wrote fantasy because that's what I read and that's what I'm comfortable with. I cranked out almost an entire novel before my laptop crashed. I had not backed it up."

Koleto said that losing the first draft of his book ended up being a blessing in disguise because it forced him to re-write. He is working on the fourth revision of his fantasy novel, tentatively titled Reverse.

"It follows the story of a young man who has amnesia, and he wakes up in a world that's torn by war. He is tainted with a curse. The book follows his journey to regain his memories. It's at 630 pages. I'm planning to submit it to publishers and really get it out there. My dream outside of skating is to be a published author in fantasy/sci-fi."

Although the novel is fantasy, Koleto does a lot of research, looking up mythical creatures, the structure of volcanoes, "steampunk" illustrations and more. He says he is a big fan of The Hunger Games series and Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle.

In addition to skating and writing, Koleto often designs his own costumes, including the one he wore for his Mishima free skate. "The movie is a true story about a soldier and author who is brought down by the government for his opinions," he said. "So, you have one side that's very military and one side that's more free. This year we went with burgundy, and I have one glove, so I guess I'm joining the trend with that."

Koleto told us he was very happy with his skating at sectionals, where he won both the short program and the free skate.

"I was really, really pleased," he said. "It was an interesting position for me to skate last in the short program, so I had to stay focused in the event. I wanted to not just hang onto first place but really pull away. My last two years I felt a bit defensive, so I really wanted to be aggressive this year."

Golden Girl

Gracie Gold, whose name seems custom made for headlines, blew away the junior ladies field at the Midwestern Sectional Championships. In fact, her score of 174.90 was the highest of any ladies skater at sectionals, junior or senior.

"I was very excited with both of my performances at sectionals," she told us in an email. "I skated very well, and [my coaches] Alex [Ouriashev] and Scott [Brown] were very happy with me."

We asked whether she plans to make any changes before the 2012 U.S. Championships in San Jose, Calif.

"Scott and I will be changing my footwork in both programs to see if we can reach a Level 4 at nationals. I don't think any other changes will be necessary," she said. "My ultimate goal is to go to junior worlds, but mostly I just want to skate my absolute best at nationals."

Keisers on a roll

After winning the U.S. novice title in 2010, Leah Keiser failed to qualify for the event in 2011.

"Last year I had an ankle injury in the middle of the season," she told us in a telephone call. "I collided with someone on a public session, and after that I never was 100 percent until this year."

The 14-year-old blazed her way back this fall, winning the senior ladies title at the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships event with a score of 172.22.

"I thought my skating was very good," she said. "I still think there's a lot of stuff I can improve on."

We were somewhat startled to learn that Keiser's half-brother, Thomas, is in the National Football League; he plays for the Carolina Panthers and was recently nominated for "Rookie of the Week."

In contrast to the 4'11" Leah, Thomas is 6'3".

"He's tall, but we both work hard at what we do," said Leah, laughing. "Watching him train is very inspiring to me, to watch how dedicated he is and how many hours he puts in each day. Wherever he is, he goes to the gym and works out."

We asked Leah her goals are for the U.S. championships in January.

"I want to try to improve my program and my skating, to bring my skating up to the standard of the other kids," she said. "I'd love to get top 10."

Technical

At the Midwestern Sectional senior men's competition, 2011 U.S. junior champion Max Aaron put up the highest technical score by a U.S. man this season and one of the highest worldwide: 81.00 points. His total score, 221.21, beat the other men in the competition by 30.63 points.

We asked Aaron if he knew he was leading the country in technical elements this season.

"I knew that I had a score that was competitive with the men on the international scene," he said. "When [coach] Tom [Zakrajsek] and I sat down at the beginning of the season, going into seniors, that's what we wanted to do.

"I don't want to be one of those guys who sits around in the middle of the pack in senior year after year. I want to get my name up there."

Aaron's biggest weapon is a consistent quad Salchow, which earned 12.50 points in the free skate at Mids.

"I think a lot of people don't respect how hard it is to do the quad," he said. "This year I really wanted to take that challenge and put it out there."

YAS 2

Head over to the Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 10 to see some exciting new choreography by the Young Artists' Showcase finalists. The show is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and includes performances by Emmanuel Savary and Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov.

After five rounds of choreography challenges, the finalists are Robert Mauti and Adam Blake. Amanda Hofmann and Erynn Komes are the finalists in the "Grassroots" junior division.

The show is free, but donations will benefit the "Kids on Ice" program, supporting low-income children in the area.

For more information, contact Audrey Weisiger at coach6605@aol.com.

New pairs skater on the way

2003 U.S. pairs champion Tiffany Scott and her husband, Brian Pryor, are expecting their first child, a boy, on March 19. Congratulations!

Sarah and Drew
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