Greatness comes at a price. In figure skating, talent only goes so far. Competing on the international level takes sacrifice and a commitment few athletes are willing to embrace.
Amber Glenn is one of them. An 8-hour skating session with her coach Ann Brumbaugh starts at 6 a.m. They work together six days a week in McKinney, trying to master every element of the sport because Amber’s potential is unlimited.
Skating is managed like a full-time job, but its treated like a full-time hobby.
She started competing at 5-years-old and was hooked right away. Almost a decade later she still loves the thrill of performing.
"You just finish that program, or that section, or that jump, and you're like, 'I just did that. Yeah, I just did that.'’ said Glenn. “You know, you get that feeling kind of like someone makes a touchdown or something and it’s like, 'Yeah, I just did that.' You know?"
The 14-year-old is on the fast track to skating stardom. Amber dominated the 2014 Junior U.S. National Championships with scores that would have placed her on the Sochi Olympic team if she was old enough.
Looking ahead, the Plano native is not only expected to make the 2018 Winter Olympics, she’s a favorite to medal.
"She has all the jumps that you'll see at the Olympics, that you saw on TV,” said Brumbaugh. “And she's just working on perfecting all the in between things. The delicate, tiny touches in between things; and so strategically, that's what we're going to do for the next four years."
"I just want it so bad. There are so many girls who say they want it, but they don't really want to put the effort in and I'm fine with putting in all the effort,” said Glenn. “I will work until I'm sleeping on the ice. I just want it so bad.”
And so does her family. They’ve sacrificed just as much to chase this Olympic dream. Her father Richard is a Plano police officer who takes on 30 overtime hours a week to finance rink time and coaching.
Amber’s mother Cathleen has made it her life’s work to focus on her daughter’s home schooling and demanding schedule.
"For the most part they say for a senior level skater, the cost of training is anywhere from 75 to $100,000 a year,” said Richard Glenn. “I never wanted it to be, 'Well I didn't reach my goals because my dad didn't make enough money or we didn't have the support from the family,' that type of thing."
"It makes me very proud that we were able to get her to this point right now. And you see I'm getting all choked up, " said Cathleen Glenn.
Everyone in the Glenn family is willing to pay the price for Olympic glory, especially Amber. She’s giving up the traditional teenager experiences to live out this dream. And if pursuing a gold medal is abnormal, it doesn’t seem to bother Amber.
"Well, I love being not-normal. I know that sounds weird’," said Glenn.
"But, I love skating so much that I'm not going to risk going to the mall, or going to my friend's, or going to see a movie. I would rather be out there trying to make myself better. Trying to make myself a better skater. So, I think its just really great being weird."