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Published on Feb 14, 2018
Keita Horiko glided across the rink at the Ice House, picking up speed as he attempted a jump — and sprawled in a fall as he came back down.Unfazed, the 10-year-old U.S.Figure Skating juvenile boys champion got up and started skating again.His older brother, 13-year-old Yuki, also was on the ice, practicing his own moves as they wound down their second practice of the day before heading home to Manhattan and doing it all again the next day.They've got Olympic-size dreams, and when they watch figure skating at the Pyeongchang Games, they've got plenty of role models — a history-making U.S.figure skating team where half of the 14 members are Asian-American."It's very inspiring and it makes you think, I want to be like them," Keita said.While there have been Asian-American figure skaters representing the United States at past Olympics — the most high-profile being gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992 and silver and bronze medalist Michelle Kwan in 1998 and 2002 — there never has been anything like this.For the women, there's 24-year-old Mirai Nagasu and 18-year-old Karen Chen; on the men's side, 18-year-old Nathan Chen and 17-year-old Vincent Zhou; among the ice dancers, sibling pair Alex Shibutani, 26, and Maia Shibutani, 23, and Madison Chock, 25.It's a heady moment, especially because Asian-Americans as a minority group have long faced stereotypes of being more about books and brains than anything else."I think it's supercool and exciting," said Mei Hoang Parmentier, 35, of Yakima, Washington, who got into watching skating when she saw Yamaguchi compete."For me growing up you had the stereotype of oh, Asians are good at math or academia or art or music," she said."I just like the idea that my daughter can see that she doesn't have to be pigeonholed, that she can actually be good at sports." Ryan Morris, 28, of Berkeley, California, agreed.The skating fan planned on making sure his young nieces and nephew watched it with him."They're going to see in the most important sport in the Winter Olympics .people who look like them," he said."It's a good feeling." Olympian Scott Hamilton said Yamaguchi's and Kwan's not only skating on a world stage but winning was likely an impetus for a younger generation of Asian-Americans, and their parents, even to consider it."A lot of it is seeing a sport and seeing others be successful and saying, I want to do that, and that's what you need," he said."Winning really creates interest." There's already been some success — skating in the team event, Nagasu became the first American woman to complete a triple axel in the Olympics.