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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? by LOIS ELFMAN To stay in shape, former U.S. competitor

Katy Taylor runs about six miles a day. She’s got a pretty reliable running buddy: her daughter, Au- tumn, whom she pushes in a stroller during the run.

Taylor, 23, is honest in saying that after her

skating days were over she was kind of in search of her identity. Since Autumn’s birth on Aug. 20, 2012, it’s been clear — she is a mom. “Autumn didn’t come into my life when I

knew who I was,” Taylor said. “As soon as she got here, the moment I laid eyes on her, I became who I used to be [as a skater]. Tat was someone who was responsible and took pride in living a good, healthy life. Someone who stood up for what needed to be taken care of. “Tere’s something she teaches me about my-

self every single day,” she added. “I can’t even begin to put into words how she has changed me and made me realize who Katy is. She is unbelievable.” Taylor started skating at the age of 6, but de- scribes herself as a slow starter. She could spend an entire lesson working on a mohawk, and she was afraid to fall. It wasn’t until she was at her first regionals at age 10 that everything clicked for her. After committing to the sport, she amassed

an impressive résumé, including silver medals at the novice and junior levels at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, silver and bronze med- als on the Junior Grand Prix circuit, a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships, a pewter medal in senior ladies at 2006 U.S. Championships and gold at the the 2006 ISU Four Continents Championships. Trough it all, she stayed at home in Houston, Texas, and tried to keep a sense of normalcy in her life. Given her unwavering commitment to at-

tend regular high school, television commenta- tors often spoke about her predawn wake-up time in order to skate before school. One morning a couple of months after the 2007 U.S. Champi- onships, she put down her spoon and told her mother she didn’t want to do it anymore. “She said, ‘You don’t want oatmeal any-

more?’ because I used to have oatmeal every morning,” Taylor recalled. “I said, ‘I don’t want to do this entire lifestyle anymore.’ She asked if I’d been thinking about it for while, and I said no. ‘I woke up this morning and I knew it wasn’t for me anymore.’ I called my coach and said, ‘I’m not coming in this morning and I don’t think I’m coming back.’ “Everyone thought that I was going to come back a couple of weeks later, that I just needed a temporary break, but that wasn’t the case,” she added. “I graduated high school in 2008. I didn’t get on the ice once. I didn’t watch skating on TV. I didn’t read about it on the Internet. I knew ab- solutely nothing about it.”

Te summer after high school, she went skating with a friend. After that, she realized she wanted to return. She contacted her coach, and slowly began training again. While still very much a work in progress, she received a call from a well-known coach who was looking for a part- ner for a male pairs skater. After initially saying

no because she had never previously considered pairs, she agreed to a tryout. “Honestly, I loved pairs,” Taylor said. “We

had a great connection. I was happy.” Tey spoke about the future. She returned home intent to get into prime condition. Several weeks went by and she didn’t hear from the skater or coach. Eventually, a call came saying he had picked a different partner. “It crushed me,” Taylor said. Feeling she was in a constant struggle with

the sport, Taylor called it quits for good. She knows Internet speculation centered on injuries and boot problems, but she said while those things did happen, that’s not why she quit. She simply didn’t want to continue. She never con-

turned to the rink to coach and found she loved it and thrived on sharing her knowledge and ex- perience. “It kind of healed a lot of difficult things,” she said. “Tat was the best decision I could have made at the time — to start coaching and going to school part-time.” Since giving birth to Autumn, Taylor only has time to go to the rink occasionally. Along with being a full-time mom, she’s now a full-time student at the University of Houston, with three semesters left to graduation. She’s majoring in journalism and has a minor in political science. Te discipline and focus she developed as a com- petitive skater serve her well in balancing moth- erhood with her studies. Taylor doesn’t keep in touch with a lot of

people from skating, but she does touch base with Kimmie Meissner at least once a month. During their days on the international circuit, the media often played up their friendship, and Taylor confirmed that was totally real. Given the pressures each dealt with at a young age, they were a nice support system for each other. Looking back at the amazing experiences she had as a teenager, Taylor treasures the inter- national travel, but wishes it came when she was slightly older. Even though she was young, she always made a point to go sightseeing and sample local cuisine. “I didn’t realize how unusual it was for me to

Katy Taylor and baby daughter Autumn enjoy a day at the beach. Autumn turns 1 later this month.

be traveling to these other countries and learning about their ways, their languages, their foods and everything else it had to offer,” she said. “As you get older and especially after you have kids, you look at everything in such a completely different way. Traveling was so special and dear to me, but I do wish I could do it over again as an adult.” One of her U.S. teammates on the interna-

tional junior scene was Evan Lysacek. She knew he was special, but didn’t predict he’d become Olympic champion. She also traveled with Meryl Davis and Charlie White. “I always say that you know who’s not going

to make it in the sport, but you never know who is going to make it,” Taylor said. “Te ice is slip- pery.”

Taylor doesn’t have a favorite competition, but she does cite a favorite program, “Legends of the Fall,” her short program at the 2007 U.S. Championships. “I would have to say that was my most

sidered professional show skating. It was the beginning of a tough time in her

life. Her parents divorced and she experienced some significant problems. “I had one dream — I wanted to go to the

Olympics,” Taylor said. “Once I didn’t live up to that, I didn’t really see myself anywhere else in the sport.” She started college. Ten in 2011, Taylor re-

memorable performance,” Taylor noted. “To my heart and my soul, that is one program that I won’t forget performing. Whenever I watch that program, I can remember how I was feeling in that moment.” Autumn’s birth has not only soothed Tay-

lor’s soul, it’s brought a healing to her family. Af- ter some initial awkward moments, her parents are now friends and they spend family time to- gether. Her parents and older brother have been of enormous help with Autumn when Taylor is at school or studying. “Some days are very challenging,” she said.

“I’ve had a lot of tears, but every day I learn something and every day I’m happy.”


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