Having time to herself has been a foreign concept to figure skater Rachael Flatt of Del Mar. She won the U.S. title in January, finished seventh at the Vancouver Olympics and ninth at the world championships, all while balancing four Advanced Placement classes and finishing her senior year at Cheyenne Mountain High in Colorado Springs, her training base.
She was accepted to attend Stanford in September but deferred enrollment for a year, giving her time to further her training and simply to breathe.
“These last couple of years have been quite a journey but they’ve also been really hectic so I wanted a little bit of a break between school and skating,” she said by phone Monday.
“I thought it would be a great time to really commit to just skating for this year. It will be nice to have a little bit of free time, and there will be opportunities for me to do more off-ice classes. It will be a wonderful opportunity for me.”
Flatt’s classes are done, so she’s performing this week with the Stars on Ice tour, which will stop Thursday at Staples Center and Friday at Anaheim. But she’ll miss the following show, at San Diego, because of a scheduling conflict -- her high school graduation, to be held Sunday. “I wouldn’t miss that for anything,” she said, laughing.
Flatt, who will be 18 in July, manages to squeeze a lot into each day. By studying in every spare moment she maintained a perfect 4.0 grade- point average — though she said she hadn’t seen her final semester’s grades. Her dedication to her studies makes it likely that her grades stayed up, even in a year that included the Olympics and world championships.
“It was difficult at times but it was definitely worth the sacrifice of sleep,” she said. “It was taxing to basically have a nonexistent social life for about a year while I committed myself entirely to school and skating, just to get the job done.
“Four AP classes is demanding, but training for the Olympics is also incredibly demanding so putting those two together is pretty crazy. But it was definitely worth it. It was so much fun.”
Flatt said she’s torn between majoring in chemical engineering or biomechanics when she reaches Stanford. In either case, she figures to have a difficult academic schedule that wouldn’t easily mesh with elite-level training. But it’s not impossible, and the 2014 Sochi Games are on her radar, though that would mean she would have to find a coach and training site near Stanford.
“I’m just taking it day by day and year by year,” she said. “I’m still planning on training for Sochi but I might end up having to decrease my class load at Stanford from a full-time load to part-time just to make sure that happens.”