PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A pair of seventh graders from the Oregon Connections Academy have skated their way to Detroit, Michigan to compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this weekend.

On skates for more years of their life than not, 13-year-old Alena Budko, of Hillsboro, and 12-year-old Tia Hilbelink, of Beaverton, are figuring out just how good they can be on ice.

The pair say they spend more than 20 hours a week perfecting their skills.

“When I skate, even if it’s a small competition, I don’t really notice a lot of people because the music is on and I am really focused on what I am doing,” Budko said. “I don’t even listen to the music, I just focus on my jumps and execute the jump.”

Budko works with the Winterhawks Figure Skating Club, while Tia represents the Portland Ice Skating Club.

“The most important part is focus,” Hilbelink said. “When I wander off in my mind, I just have to get my mind back in.”

Budko and Hilbelink also balance life as students at Oregon Connections Academy. Hilbelink says her favorite subject in math.

“I can learn it anywhere, anytime," Hilbelink said. “I learn on the ice, too, with the points and anywhere else.”

The Portland pair say they are ready, but nervous to compete in the Mitten State.

“Of course, I want to get on the podium and maybe even win it, but my goal is to just prove that I am a strong skater so that I can be sent to international competition next season,” Budko said.

“I’m very excited and I am also very nervous,” Hilbelink said.

And both girls say they aspire to compete at an even higher level.

“I just have to always focus and not have myself get distracted and just keep pushing myself and trying to put out consistency and prove that it’s worth sending me to the Olympics,” Budko said.

Hilbelink says she also would like to go to the Olympics.

“But, of course, that’s what everyone says,” Hilbelink said. “I just want to be successful and put myself out there.”

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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