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The Inside Edge: Catching Up with Emily Hughes

2006 Olympian writing thesis on youth sports programs, will participate in 'Evening with Champions'

Emily Hughes will appear in "An Evening with Champions" next month at Harvard.
Emily Hughes will appear in "An Evening with Champions" next month at Harvard. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(09/08/2011) - We met Emily Hughes in Harvard Square last week, the day before she started classes. Emily is a second-semester senior at Harvard University, having taken the fall 2010 semester off to train for the U.S. Championships.

Hughes told us she spent the summer in Boston interning at a small energy consulting firm called Power Advocate, researching wind energy, among other things.

"It was a very different summer, to be behind a desk and not be in a rink!" she said.

Hughes said she skated a bit over the summer; she appeared in the Skate for Hope fundraiser along with her sister, Olympic champion Sarah. She plans to skate 2-3 times a week during the school year.

"I'm doing 'An Evening with Champions,' which already sold out," Hughes said. "It's crazy, I think they were getting requests from all over the world. It's going to be exciting!

Hughes said she'll be skating to Adele's hit "Rolling in the Deep" in the show. We're both planning to be there for the October shows, so we'll be sharing lots of stories and pictures.

Off the ice, Hughes has a concentration in sociology with a minor in government. She's writing her thesis about how sports impact youth in underprivileged areas, with a focus on sports-based youth programs in Harlem, like the Figure Skating in Harlem program.

"I went to the Figure Skating in Harlem event and realized that this is such an amazing occasion, and then learned about a few other ones in the area and decided that it might be an interesting topic to look into," Hughes said. "It makes a huge difference. All the girls in the FSH program graduate high school, they all do well in school, and looking at that area specifically, graduation rates are not very high. It's great that they have this place to go after school, and they have this sport education program as part of it."

Hughes walked in the graduation ceremony with her class in May, although she will get her diploma in a small ceremony in December.

After that, then what?

"That's the million-dollar question right now," she said, laughing. "Probably grad school is in the future, but not right now. We'll see!"

Hughes mentioned that she had interned for Senator John Kerry in the summer of 2010.

"I was one of many, many interns," she said. "It was very cool just to meet people my age who were interested in politics. We got to venture out in the capital every day. We met Tony Blair one day! It was fun to be in the center, where all the action's happening, and see how the Senate floor works."

Could politics be in her future?

"I feel like there are a lot of possibilities. It's going to be an interesting campaign that's coming up," Hughes said. "Right now I'm just trying to graduate. It's exciting to feel that there are a lot of choices."

Skate Dance Dream

As you may have heard, Parker Pennington has dreamed up a series of shows called "Skate Dance Dream." The first one took place Aug. 6 in Wooster, Ohio, and the next is scheduled for Oct. 1 in Baldwinsville, near Syracuse, N.Y.

"This show concept just came from within me," Pennington told us. "It was my inner child, remembering being that kid wanting to skate with my idol, who was Scott Hamilton. I was privileged enough to be a part of 'An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends' about 10 years ago and perform in the show with him."

Pennington told us that each show features guest stars, both skaters and dancers, and young local skaters who audition for the chance to perform with their idols. The next show stars Ross Miner, Sean Rabbitt and "So You Think You Can Dance" stars Nathan Trasoras and Ashley Valerio. There will be a dance floor on the ice, and both dance and skating in the opening and closing numbers.

Does he like to dance?

"Mainly just in my room," he said, laughing. "No, whenever I can fit it in, I try to pop into dance classes. I want to expand my creativity, and dance is an opportunity for me to do just that."

Tickets will go on sale soon. For more information, visit www.skatedancedream.com.

Japanese fans donate to Abbott's charity

While Jeremy Abbott was in Niigata, Japan, for the Fantasy on Ice show last weekend, his Japanese fan club surprised him with a $1,000 donation to the fund he started to benefit boys in figure skating.

"After Saturday's second show, we went to the host hotel," wrote Minori Yanagishima, the head of the club. "I said to Jeremy, 'We want to donate $1,000 to your boys fund.' This project was a surprise gift for him, so he didn't know anything until that time. He looked very surprised and happy. Actually, this donation is from 89 fans, so Jeremy gave a video message for all of them."

Visit us on Twitter (twitter.com/@SarahandDrew) for a link to the video.

Match and Hatch

Happy news from the skating world: Craig Buntin, the three-time Canadian pairs champion, married Melissa Kakon on Aug. 28 in Montreal.

"We met on a flight from New York to Montreal about three years ago, and we haven't looked back," Buntin told us. "The wedding took place in Montreal at Marche Bonsecours in the old port. We had about 330 people in attendance."

Skaters at the wedding included groomsmen John Mattatall, Rob Davison and Ian Moram as well as Jessica Dube, Scott Moir, Dylan Moscovitch, Buntin's former partner Valerie Marcoux, Lesley Hawker, Richard Gauthier, Bruno and Julie Marcotte, and another former partner, Chantal Poirier.

In other news, 1999 world junior ice dancing champion Justin Pekarek and his wife, Hilary Gibbons Pekarek, welcomed a son, Cooper Joseph, on Sept. 1. Mother and baby are both doing well, according to Pekarek.

"Baby Coop is good. He is such a cutie," he wrote. "We couldn't be happier."

Good luck to all in the new school year,

Sarah and Drew
sarahanddrewblog@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter for pictures and news at twitter.com/SarahandDrew