Dreams do come true. Aurora Cotop is living proof. I was watching the 16-year-old in practice and was struck by the confidence of the young Canadian as she took her opening short program position while the music was ready to be played.
In just two short years, Cotop, of Thornhill, Ont., has gone from being the national junior women's champion to the national senior silver medallist. And now she's at her first world figure skating championships. It is pretty impressive.
Michael Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director direct in discussing where Cotop is at this stage of her development.
'This is where you start," he said. "Coach Ravi Walia has a good plan for worlds, especially having been here before with [world champion] Kaetlyn Osmond when she was an unknown at worlds."
Cotop made the move to Walia in Edmonton this season, and it seems to be paying off. Walia said Cotop is the hardest-working skater of all his students.
"I think Aurora is a very well-rounded skater," he said. "She combines athleticism with artistry."
Cotop felt overwhelmed when she first arrived in Japan, but her confidence as returned.
"I was definitely scared about being here with all of the amazing skaters, but I feel like I am fitting in. It's big. Really big. It's over the top, but I like it," she said with a giggle.
I watched her start her practise and my eye was drawn to how confident and strong Cotop seemed. In an era where it's easy for us as spectators to get stuck in the weeds with all of the details and information thrown at us in figure skating, I found it refreshing to see a skater go through their paces in an uncomplicated way. The potential was clear to me as Cotop landed the triple toe jump, the triple Salchow/double toe jump combination, and finally her double Axel during her short program run-through.
"Believe it or not, I know it sounds strange but my goal at these world championships is to be able to qualify to skate the long program. I know it doesn't seem like a lot but doing a great short program and skating the free would be great," said Cotop.
It wasn't too long ago when a younger Cotop was at home and watching the world figure skating championships on television. For anyone else sitting at home and watching the worlds and wondering how to get there, Cotop offers the following advice: "Keep pushing yourself every day, no matter how big your dreams are, if you keep pushing, they are accomplishable," Cotop continued with a smile, "Is that even a word? Accomplishable. I am not sure, but it says what I want to say."
The women's competition starts Wednesday in Saitama, Japan where Cotop will compete 16th of a total of 40 women. CBC Sports has full live stream coverage beginning Tuesday night with at 9:30 p.m. ET with the pairs short program.