Kansas City figure skater vying for spot on U.S. Olympic Team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City figure skater is competing this weekend for a National Championship title and a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

John Coughlin is a pairs figure skater from Kansas City, Mo.

He and his partner, Caydee Denney are competing in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston this week.

They won the U.S. title together in 2012, and Coughlin won with a different partner in 2011. But this time, they're not only competing for a championship. They're competing to represent the U.S. in Sochi in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Coughlin started skating at a very young age, when his sister was taking ice skating lessons in Kansas City.

"She was skating and taking lessons," said father, Michael Coughlin. "He was the little terrorist running around the rink and getting in trouble so he ended up in lessons too, just to keep him out of trouble."

Little did Coughlin know, his son would develop a passion for the sport. A passion that has led to a very successful career.

"He had been training seriously, like we were trying to do this from the very beginning," Coughlin said.

The older Coughlin said his son was committed from day one. When he finally learned to drive, he would take himself to early morning practice before school. Often, he trained before and after school, six to seven days a week.

"His commitment did not change as he became a teenager. He stayed focused on what he wanted to do," Coughlin said.

His former skating partner, Kelsey Parker, said Coughlin was always more than just a partner to her. He was a great friend.

"It's quite the relationship when you skate together," she said. "You have the same schedule, you eat the same foods. You're always together and you travel together. I couldn't have chosen a better friend and a better partner."

Parker and Coughlin's partnership ended during training for the 2001 U.S. Figure Skating Championship when Parker got injured. She had to stay off the ice for six months.

Six years ago, John Coughlin moved to Colorado Springs, to train with other elite skaters like himself. His father said that helps him become even more competitive, to see what other skaters are capable of and to continue to improve himself.

Over the holidays, he trained hard, working through Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

"I went to Colorado Springs and visited him over Christmas," said Michael Coughlin. "He was on the ice with his partner and did a full day of training on Christmas Eve. He went and did weight training and yoga on Christmas day. That's focused, you know. He just wants to make sure he's got every base covered on this."

Coughlin and Denney will skate Thursday afternoon in the Championships Pairs Short Program at 4:45 p.m. EST in Boston.  They will skate again in the Championship Pairs Free Skate on Saturday. 

We should know on Sunday whether they make it on the U.S. Olympic Team.  Stay with 41 Action News for updates on their progress.

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