For Hastings native Megan Burkey, the State Games of America are a stone's throw away from home this year compared to two years ago.
Burkey, who appeared in the State Games of America in San Diego two summers ago, will lead a group of local figure skaters to the bi-annual Olympic style event, starting today in the Hershey-Harrisburg area.
"I'm excited, especially with it being in Pennsylvania this year," Burkey, 18, said. "It's kind of nice."
Burkey will be among eight figure skaters who are based out of Galactic Ice in Altoona making the trip. The event runs today until Sunday.
"I'm super excited," coach Amber Yandura said. "It's going to be a great experience for all of the competitors."
With the event being on the East Coast for just the second time, it will allow more competitors from the area to be in the event.
Along with Burkey, Myranda Mamat, 14, Sarafina Huckabee Milburn, 13, Hunter Evans, 13, Daniel Hamer, 11, Elaina Hamer, 8, Kearsten Pham, 6, and Miley Naugle, 5 will all get to compete in the event.
Burkey will be competing in the free skate, compulsory, artistic and showcase events.
Milburn will compete in the free skate.
Each event has its own age and skill levels to help level out the playing field.
"I'm pretty excited because it's a pretty big deal," Milburn said. " I just want to be able to do my best."
Events like this are something Yandura said she helps prepare the skaters for all year around. She also encourages them to be well-rounded and compete in different areas.
Although the State Games of America is judged, Yandura's skaters will also be on display - this time with less pressure - in the End of Summer Ice Show on Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. at Galactic Ice. Tickets for the event are $5.
"It's different," Burkey said of why she enjoys figure skating. "There's not a lot of figure skating. It's definitely something that I get to be unique in."
Burkey, who has been skating for eight years, was at the dentist when she saw an ad for learn-to-skate lessons. She then advanced to private lessons.
And with Burkey leaving for college in a few short weeks, she is excited that so many young competitors will be following her to the State Games of America.
"My first competition I did," Milburn said of asking for advice from Burkey. "She was pretty helpful. She told me to do my best."
Burkey said watching the younger competitors is one of her favorite parts of competing and competitions like the State Games of America.
"I like to believe they look at me as a role model," Burkey said. "I just tell them no matter whether it's competition or show to smile and do your best."