February 13, 2018 07:33 PM
Pittsford's Paige Conners' path to the Olympics has been filled with new experiences- and on Tuesday she returns to the ice in the pairs competition for Team Israel.
When we caught up with her before the games, she was five hours from her hometown in Pittsford, hard at work. There was no time to rest, even after a 10-hour flight back from Israel after a team competition. And yet, that wasn't the biggest adjustment for the 17-year-old.
For the first time in her competitive career, she has a partner, and learning to skate with someone else took some getting used to.
"When I first started, it was super scary," she said, "I would open up in the middle of the air, but that's how you hurt yourself. I went through man injuries when I started. I would wear butt pad shorts that looked like a diaper, like I wrapped myself in bubble wrap."
The presence of a partner on the ice also was unusual.
"It was really strange to hold someone's hand while competing," she said, "I'm used to doing my own thing, but now someone's there, but now I can't imagine going back to singles."
The switch to pairs has paid off for Paige and her partner, Evgani Krasnopolski. They dazzled the crowd during the team competition, and even though the two only became partners recently, he says joining together has paid off quickly.
"[She's] pretty good, the best I've ever had, so pretty good," said Krasnopolski.
While Paige has been widely successful on the ice, she has had to give up many things off of it. Chief among them: a normal teenage experience. Paige left home in eighth grade to train at a higher level in New Jersey, and she says it was tough not to see some familiar faces all the time.
"Seeing my family every day, seeing my friends every day- because I have two older brothers that I'd see everyday, we'd get up and get ready for school. I left normal school the second half of eighth grade and started doing online school. Every time I go home I see all of my friends from home, which is so nice, because it's maybe once a month if I'm lucky."
Paige's mom hold dual citizenship with Israel, and that's why she's allowed to compete for Israel at the Olympics. Even though Paige was born in the United States, she says she will be proud of any flag that's raised behind her when she makes a medal podium.
"So far, all of my international competitions have been for Israel, and I feel honored to represent that country."
She also joins another group: the list of athletes to represent Rochester in the Olympics.
Created: February 13, 2018 07:33 PM
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