Photo Credit | Atlanta Fire

Here are two Atlanta hockey players and three young figure skaters who are training hard to make it to the top of their sports. Before the Olympics begin, also check out our ultimate guide to watching the winter Olympics for facts, fun projects and more.

David Eberly

Age 15; Atlanta
Competitive Hockey Player with Atlanta Fire; plays forward

David fell in love with hockey at an Atlanta Thrashers game and began taking hockey lessons at age 5. With his team, Atlanta Fire, he practices three times per week plus additional practicing on his own. “You learn to cooperate with other people, even beyond hockey in school and group projects,” he says. He hopes to continue playing into adulthood. “My ultimate dream is to play professionally. Short term, I want to get into college with the sport,” he says.

Olympic Watch List: “I’ll watch hockey as much as I can. What I love about the Olympics is the world class talent, and how the athletes devote time and perform for the world.”

Admired Athlete:Mats Zuccarello. Hockey is usually about the biggest and strongest players, and he isn’t the biggest or strongest. He has so much talent that he can still be an elite player.”

Nate Korowin

Age 15; Milton
Competitive Hockey Player with Atlanta Fire; plays forward

Nate is originally from Michigan, and began a hockey program there at age 3 before moving to Atlanta at age 9. He practices three days per week with his teammates on Atlanta Fire, and also shoots pucks on a daily basis. “My coach has taught me how to control my emotions and not to get mad when we don’t win,” he says. “I have transferred this to real life as well, and learned you can’t always get what you want.” He loves traveling and hopes to one day play professionally. “After this year I may go north and play on a junior team, and then a college team if I can,” he says. “The NHL would be the main goal, but it will take lots of hard work and commitment.”

Olympic Watch List: “Championship hockey to see who is the best team in the world. Also skiing and downhill jumps.”

Admired Athlete:Pavel Datsyuk. I have admired him since I was 6 or 7 when he played for Detroit.”

The boys play under coach Curtis Morrison or “Mo” at The Cooler in Alpharetta. Atlanta Fire is currently ranked in first place in the EJEPL Showcase League and will play for league and state championships in February and March.

Madeline Freeman

Age 13; Milton
Competitive Figure Skater, Atlanta Figure Skating Club (coach Graham Payne)

Madeline loved watching figure skating on TV, even in cartoons, and began skating at age 5. Freeman attends school three days per week at Rivers Academy Private School as part of a program to allow for six days of figure skating and traveling to competitions. “The most challenging thing is mental determination,” she says. “Sometimes not getting a certain element can be really discouraging, but you always have to remember nothing in figure skating is easy.” She recently began skating with a partner once per week and enjoys the new challenge. Freeman hopes to one day coach and compete in the Olympics.

Olympic Watch List: “All the figure skating: pairs, ice dance, etc. My favorite part is the opening ceremony and seeing competitors holding flags and being so proud of their countries.”

Admired Athletes:Nathan Chen. He is so graceful and his jumps are amazing. My favorite ice dancers are the Shibutani brother and sister team, they have amazing twizzles and they seem to always have so much joy when they are performing.”

Kaitlyn McGarigle

Age 12; Marietta
Competitive Figure Skater, Atlanta Figure Skating Club (coach Debbie Prachar)

Kaitlyn began skating at age 4 after seeing figure skaters jump and spin on the ice during her older brother’s hockey practice. She practices four to five hours per day, six days a week. “The most challenging thing about skating is balancing being a kid and putting in the time to train to be the best I can be,” she says. Kaitlyn hopes to make it to Nationals one day. “Skating teaches you that in life there will be challenges, but you have to get back up and keep working hard at it,” she says.

Olympic Watch List: “I will be watching the men’s figure skating event to see how far they will go to win the gold.”

Admired Athletes:Nathan Chen and Karen Chen. Nathan is the first male to land five quadruple jumps in competition. Karen Chen was successful early on and was national champion last year.”

Jeslyn Choi

Age 12; Johns Creek
Competitive Figure Skater, Atlanta Figure Skating Club, (coach Debbie Prachar)

Jeslyn started skating at age 3 ½ and has been skating ever since. “I loved the breeze coming off the ice – it was breathtaking and I immediately loved it,” she says. Jeslyn is homeschooled through Georgia Connections Academy; she skates in the morning and again in the afternoon. She holds a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which she says help with flexibility and off-ice training for her main focus, figure skating. She feels lucky to have found her passion. “I really want to compete at the Olympics one day, and I want to do this as my job,” she says.

Olympic Watch List: “I love how ancient the Olympics are, and how people are gathered there to show what they have. I am most excited to watch the figure skaters.”

Admired Athlete:Mirai Nagasu because she does the hardest elements in her programs, and has worked so hard to get to the Olympics.”

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