DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Countdown to the Winter Olympics in Russia: one month, 15 sports, 98 events, and that includes of course men's figure skating. The U.S. will send only two men to the games as part of its figure skating team. Those spots will be decided this week. The national figure skating championships are underway in Boston right now, and essentially serve as the trials for the Olympics. The field is wide open and there's some fierce competition.

Figure skater Jeremy Abbott wants one of the two spots at Olympic. The three-time U.S. champion has yet to deliver on the world stage, but he wants 2014 to be the year he takes home an Olympic medal.

Marci Krivonen of Aspen Public Radio has this profile.

MARCI KRIVONEN, BYLINE: Figure skater Jeremy Abbott tugs hard on the laces of his brand new, black ice skates.

JEREMY ABBOTT: I need the support. You know, when you're jumping triple and quad jumps...

(LAUGHTER)

ABBOTT: ...you need a lot of ankle support.

KRIVONEN: In the locker room, he warms up his muscles, stretches out and loosens up his joints before he starts skating.

ABBOTT: I do the same routine before I get on the ice for every session I skate, usually three hours a day. So I do the same routine like three times a day.

KRIVONEN: Being on the ice comes naturally to the 28-year-old. He was in ice skates at age 2. He's already been to one Olympics. He placed ninth at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. He competes in the U.S. championships in Boston, starting January 10th. It's the Olympic qualifier. He'll be performing a routine set to a song by the band Muse.

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YUKA SATO: His quality of the skating is probably one of the best in the world.

KRIVONEN: Yuka Sato is Abbott's coach.

SATO: He is a very well-balanced skater. He's a great performer and he's very artistic. I think that all-around skating skill is what makes him so good.

PEGGY BEHR: I always say Jeremy has happy feet. He has like just feet that just connect with the ice.

KRIVONEN: Colorado resident Peggy Behr was Jeremy's coach for seven years during the lead up to the Vancouver games. She says she knew he was talented the first time she saw him skate.

BEHR: We walked into the rink, my husband and I before we moved here, and Jeremy was out there skating. And even my husband who doesn't have an eye for that - for you know, skating, but he could see the talent.

(SOUNDBITE OF SKATING)

KRIVONEN: Out on the ice, Abbott practices moves like a triple Lutz and a triple flip. After practice, Abbott cools down in the locker room. He knows he has what it takes to get to the Olympics - he's already been to one - but he's still nervous.

ABBOTT: I can do the tricks and I can skate. I have great skating skills and artistry and well-choreographed programs. For me, the biggest obstacle is just bringing it all together.

KRIVONEN: During his routine, he says he tries to keep his thoughts simple and methodical. Unlike other sports, he doesn't have a team cheering him on, so his performance is personal.

ABBOTT: The goal for me is the Olympics. It's Sochi, and doing my best there. And, you know, my best has the potential to be on the podium.

KRIVONEN: If he makes it to the Olympics, he could perform three times for his short and long programs and for a new possibility, the team event. The new discipline combines scores from individual performances by the men's, women's, pairs and ice dancing teams from the top scoring countries.

For NPR News, I'm Marci Krivonen in Aspen.

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GREENE: This is NPR News.

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