Area figure skater heads to nationals

APPLETON (WLUK) -- Figure skating is a sport that combines strength and grace.

15-year-old Payton Winkler of Wrightstown has both and now he'll get to prove it on a national stage.

Winkler is the first skater from the Green Bay area to earn a spot in the US Figure Skating championships. That means he is one of the 12 best skaters in the country, at his level.

As his feet hit the ice Wednesday, emotions swirled through Payton Winkler's head.

"Nervous and excited...and all of the above!" he exclaimed.

The 15-year-old figure skater is preparing for the national championship. He will skate two routines, one long, one short at the intermediate level.

"You have people from all over the country going to one spot. The top 12 in the country," Winkler explained.

Winkler told FOX 11 News this year his goal was just to get to the round before nationals. Then he exceeded his own expectations.

"It was mind-blowing! I didn't ever expect I was gonna make it!" Winkler told us.

Winkler has been skating for about 8 years. He started working with his now head coach Amy Brolsma five years ago.

"He was a little boy that had a lot of energy. Sometimes we have to reel him in a little bit!" Brolsma exclaimed.

But the energy seves Winkler well. He trains 7 days a week 2 to 3 hours a day.

"Never complains. Even when he has to get up at three in the morning on a Saturday," explained Winkler's mother Kim.

"He's had to learn three different, new tricks this year: a double axle and two triple jumps," added Brolsma.

And those jumps are hard both mentally and physically.

"He's got some bumps and some bruises that he's been able to overcome. You know, falling down is part of the sport and he's learned to get up," Brolsma told us.

Winkler said he enjoys the training, because he enjoys this sport, particularly the independence it offers.

"I have to rely on myself. I get to do what I want to do and I don't need to put my outcome in anybody else's hands," Winkler explained.

"How proud are you?" Alex Ronallo asked Kim Winkler.

"Oh, extremely," she replied.

Winkler's mother told FOX 11 News she's especially proud her son will be the first from the area to go this far.

"He's paving the way for everybody," she said.

Winkler told us he's happy to represent Northeast Wisconsin.

"It means a lot," he said, and it took a lot to get here.

Winkler will skate this Saturday and Sunday. The championships are held in Kansas City, Missouri.

We've posted the all of Winkler's short routine in this story.

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