Dreams of Olympic Gold Start Early, Even in West Texas

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--14-year-old Kaylee Whitley of Odessa may not have the skills she needs to win an Olympic gold medal yet, but one thing is certain, she definitely has the heart of an Olympic champion.

"I want to go to the Olympics but it's okay if it doesn't happen because I'll probably get as far as I can.  That's my goal,"  Kaylee said.

In just three short years, Kaylee has learned it all, from jumps to spins to fancy footwork.  It was her family and friends who sparked her interest in figure skating.  Since men's figure skating is her favorite event, she was rooting on Evan Lysacek, in Thursday night's men's final.

"He practices all the time, a lot of hours a day and I think that's really awesome, because I want to be able to practice that much and have that much endurance to do this and have that much strength," Kaylee said.

If practice time is what it takes, Kaylee is half way there.  She practices about 2 hours a day, 6 days a week.  That hard work has already paid off.  She recently took first place in a regional skating competition in Grapevine.

Olga Jiltsova-Todd has been Kaylee's coach since day one.  She says in three years, Kaylee has made a lot progress.  The fact she picks up on things so well is an added plus.

"When she got the first place at Regional's in her level, of course, I was so proud of her.  She earned it.  She worked hard," Jiltsova-Todd said.

But you can't be on top all the time.  There are always some down moments.

"It's getting tough.  It's lot's of falls, lot's of crying.  But you stand up and do it again,"  Jiltsova-Todd explained.

So what does Kaylee see in the future?

"I don't want to answer that one," she said.

She's staying tight lipped so she doesn't jinx herself.  Her coach says, it's all about taking things one day at a time, "Of course, it's one competition then the next one.  What's next?  Olympics or not?  We'll see."