Local skaters prepare for U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul

Ice time is at a premium right now as the best skaters from across the country start to arrive in the Twin Cities for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The Xcel Energy Center hosted the championships once before in 2008. Since then, the competition has been combined with the national championships for youth skaters. Some local competitors are hoping for a home rink advantage.

17-year-old Mitchel Markkanen has been striving to compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Championship for most his life. For practice, he drives 120 miles from New London, Minn. up to 6 times a week.

“I never really wanted to be in the Olympics, I always thought that was a little far off,” Markkanen said. “I always just wanted to compete at nationals. That was always kinda my goal and I thought that was far off too, until this year.”

Paired up for less than nine months and heading into just their third competition together, his much younger, but height, weight, and skill-appropriate partner is clear about why she loves to skate.

“My sister does it too,” 10-year-old Anika Olson said.

Together, they are two of the 12 competitors with Minnesota ties competing over the next two weekends.  

In the next 11 days it's expected that with 400 skaters coming to compete, it will add $4 million to St. Paul’s economy. But with dreams coming true, you can't put a price on the excitement level.