SAN RAMON -- As a little girl, Alice Yang was an endless blur of motion, her mother recalls.

Always jumping around, bending, twisting, twirling and zipping about the house as child, mom Linda Wang says the young ice skater from San Ramon was always a burst of kinetic activity.

In fact, Wang remembers how others sometimes joked that Alice tumbled around so much they would have thought she was a boy, if it weren't for the fact "she was just this little spinning thing in pink."

Skating coach Kim Micheff talks with Olympic hopeful Alice Yang, 13, of San Ramon, during a practice session at Dublin Iceland, in Dublin, Calif. on
Skating coach Kim Micheff talks with Olympic hopeful Alice Yang, 13, of San Ramon, during a practice session at Dublin Iceland, in Dublin, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Alice recently qualified to compete at the Prudential US Figure Skating Championship in Boston, where the US Olympic figure skating team will be selected. (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)

But these days, Alice, now 13, has harnessed all that boundless vitality into a picture-perfect image of grace, agility and athleticism on ice. And it is those skills as a figure skater, gliding and spinning with exquisite elegance on the ice, that have thrust her into a national spotlight. She recently qualified for the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championship that will be held in Boston from Sunday through Jan. 12. To earn this spot, she placed second in ladies intermediate level figure skating at the U.S. Pacific Coast Sectionals -- along with another girl from the Bay Area in her level who placed fourth, Lily Sun, of San Mateo.


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The national championship is a prestigious event, from which the Olympic team is selected, said Kim Micheff, her skating coach. Although Alice isn't yet at Olympic level, it's a huge accomplishment for the young skater,

"She's a good competitor," Micheff said "She just has the fighting desire in her, and I see it on a daily basis."

Olympic hopeful Alice Yang, 13, of San Ramon, practices at Dublin Iceland in Dublin, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Alice recently qualified to
Olympic hopeful Alice Yang, 13, of San Ramon, practices at Dublin Iceland in Dublin, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Alice recently qualified to compete at the Prudential US Figure Skating Championship in Boston, where the US Olympic figure skating team will be selected. (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)

For instance, she worked nearly every day for years to nail a triple Salchow and a double axle. And she's a master at the art of spinning. It's her specialty, her coach said. In fact, Alice has the highest score in the United States of all the intermediate level ladies figure skaters on her layback spin. She can arch her back and amazingly spin up to 30 revolutions in one spin.

"It takes a lot of talent," Micheff said. To perform these adept moves, "you need to be well aware of where your body is and where your weight is on your blade."

And although Alice can be found at ice skating practice for an hour every morning before school and on the weekends at Dublin Iceland, she and her mother care deeply about her achieving a balance in athletics, school and her social life. In fact, she's also is straight-A student at Gale Ranch Middle School.

Olympic hopeful Alice Yang, 13, of San Ramon, practices at Dublin Iceland in Dublin, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Alice recently qualified to
Olympic hopeful Alice Yang, 13, of San Ramon, practices at Dublin Iceland in Dublin, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Alice recently qualified to compete at the Prudential US Figure Skating Championship in Boston, where the US Olympic figure skating team will be selected. (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)

She's very focused, diligent and dedicated," Micheff said. "And she exhibits grace under pressure."

Although Alice is determined to do her best, she's also a very careful skater, her mother observes. That's why she never has gotten injured. And at the same time, she doesn't ever allow herself to just give up or get easily discouraged, her mom said. For instance, Alice recently fell when landing a triple Salchow during a competition, only to just pick herself up, rebound and nail it the next time, finally placing in the top four in same competition.

She will just say to herself: "I will do better next time," her mom says.

Alice shrugged and said she doesn't know how or why she's so good at spins -- or at ice skating, for that matter. She just knows that she loves the feeling of being on the ice.

Although her coach says Alice can be somewhat quiet and shy, she quick to laugh and smile whenever she talks about her love of skating -- and it's clear she does it because she finds it fun -- and not just because she's determined.

In fact, that's one of the things she remembers enjoying the most about figure skating, even at 5-and-a-half years-old, when she started lessons.

She was just thrilled and excited that she could do all the things she loved to do naturally, "spin and jump and go fast," she said, joyfully. And the feeling of spinning around fast always just seemed second-nature to her.

When she was 8 years old, she recalls, she'd go to the park near her home, hang off the playground merry-go-round and spin as fast as she could.

It was exhilarating, she said: "The faster it went, the more I liked it."

Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.

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