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Santa Monica 7th Grader Wins Figure Skating Bronze

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

February 6, 2015 -- It’s about 5:30 in the evening and 12-year-old Gia Kokotakis, a 7th grader at Windward School in Santa Monica, is studying like crazy for upcoming multiple mid-term exams.

In addition to doing regular homework, she now allots an extra 30 to 60 minutes just to study for the tests. “It’s tiring,” she said, taking a small break. “I have a lot going on.”

That is something of an understatement for Kokotakis, who has taken home more than a few wins in her mission to win Olympic gold in figure skating one day.

In fact, tired though she is, Kokotakis perks right up at the mention of the 2015 United States Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina in late January. She won a bronze medal in the Intermediate Ladies division.

“It was like a dream,” she said. “I was never expecting to be at the national Championships standing at the podium. I felt like I was flying, like it wasn’t real.” Kokotakis scored a personal best of 99.43, her mother, Rainer Kokotakis, said.

She trains at Paramount Iceland and the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, her mom ever at her side as chief cheerleader and, of course, chauffeur.

Kokotakis said she is now learning triple jumps, and will be moving up in competition to the Novice Ladies Division. “It’s a lot harder,” she said.

Up next on her skating schedule: Competing in the All Year Open at Ice Center Arena in Ontario, California in late May and the beginning of June.

Squeezing in homework is no easy feat when, as Kokotakis does, you train 23 hours a week, plus extra time for strength and flexibility training, along with some ballet.

 She’s had to juggle her schedule to make time for her mid-terms in Honors History, accelerated pre-Algebra, Science, English and French. She also uses the car ride back from training at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo to study in the afternoon.

Kokatakis has been skating eight years – and dreaming of the Olympics since she was five.

She placed 3rd in the 2015 Southwest Pacific Regional Championships in Ontario in October and also won the bronze medal at the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships in Spokane, Washington in November.

It was that win that qualified her for the National Championships. She is coached by Alex Chang, Jere Michael, Frank Carroll and Natalie Shaby.

 Kokatakis trains mornings at Paramount Iceland, although is taking a brief break until mid-terms are over. They can’t end soon enough for her.
 
“My teachers say the idea of mid-terms is worse than the actual mid-terms,” she said.

You’d think all that high-pressure skating competition would prepare her for exams that cover everything she’s learned at school since it started this year. But that isn’t so. “I wish,” she said with a sigh.


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