NASHVILLE, Tenn — As the top pairs skaters in the United States took the ice, a group of girls and boys from Knoxville watched closely.
Sitting just feet from the ice, they watched their idols perform.
"It's really inspiring," said 11-year-old Madeline Darby. "I get to watch how people show their creativity and skills."
Madeline and five of her teammates from Cool Sports in Knoxville were selected as sweepers for the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Nashville.
"When [the audience] throws all the stuffed animals and stuff for the professional skaters, we get to go and pick them up for them," 11-year-old Ameliya Godo said. "It's a big opportunity. You usually don't get to meet the next Olympians."
As each pairs team warmed up on the ice, Godo and her teammates skated in a circle to pick up any gifts left for the previous team.
"It's unreal," 16-year-old Madison McCameron said. "It's been amazing to watch them and just be around all the skaters."
Kate Johnson, 13, has skated for roughly eight years. She said she enjoyed watching the different programs over the weekend.
"Just seeing them skate and land their triples, I think that's amazing," she said. "I'm really excited that I get to be on the same ice that a lot of people have performed for the Olympic teams on."
The two pairs teams selected to compete on behalf of Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics are Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc and Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier.
The Knoxville skaters were thrilled to watch them perform.
"It's a big opportunity to see people that are really great skaters," Godo said. "You might only get that chance like once or twice."