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2 Utah figure skaters will be hard to overlook

SHARE 2 Utah figure skaters will be hard to overlook

During the Olympics there are always figure skaters who are larger than life. In Utah this year there are also figure skaters who are much, much larger than life. In that latter category you can count Utah figure skaters Mackenzie Baltz and Kendall Peterson.

If you live in Salt Lake City or Provo, there's a very good chance you've already seen one of them.

Baltz, a Park City native and student at the University of Utah, is pictured on the giant banner, unveiled last week, on the west side of the LDS Church Office Building. The enormous banner appeared on the front pages of both Salt Lake daily newspapers and also in USA Today.

Peterson, a student at Brigham Young University from Provo, had her giant picture also unveiled last week. It adorns the east face of the Nu Skin building in Provo.

This means that as Baltz towers over the Medals Plaza during the Games, her friend Peterson is front and center for the ice carving contest and other festivities going on at the center of Provo.

Of course the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and Nu Skin used their photographs to represent the sport of figure skating, not to call attention to the skaters themselves. But it's hard for people not to notice your face when it's five stories high and placed in the most prominent places.

"I first got a glimpse of it when I was driving back from practice. I knew they were going to use a picture they had taken of me, but I had no idea where," Baltz said. "I was a little nervous that I would be pulling a funny face in the picture, but it turned out great."

Peterson said she wasn't expecting to see her whole face on the building. "I've done some shoots with SLOC, and usually I'm just a generic skater in the pictures. On this one you can really tell that it's me and that was a surprise," Peterson said.

Both said that while they may be recognizable figures to the Utah figure skating community, being recognized by the public is something new.

"I was in Wendover for a couple hours, and one of the dealers recognized me from the picture, that was fun," Baltz said.

It's fitting that the pictures of both skaters went up around the same time. Baltz and Peterson have skated together for years, both using the same coach, Kris Sherard, for many of those years. They've also been friends as well as competitors and training partners. Baltz was one of Peterson's bridesmaids when she was married 2 1/2 years ago.

They both are also two of only a handful of Utah figure skaters who compete at the highest, or "senior" level, thus the reason they were sought out for the photos.

"At the photo shoots they would tell us what they wanted us to do and then you have to do it over and over, which isn't bad a few times, but gets exhausting after you do it 300 times," Peterson said.

Both skaters are also involved in the Games in another way by performing with other Utah skaters for the opening ceremonies. Baltz said that they are now practicing four times a week, putting in a lot of hours to get everything just right.

The ceremonies take on a special significance for Peterson because she said she is deciding whether she wants to continue competing, meaning the ceremonies might be some of her final big shows.

Baltz, though, still plans on shooting for the chance at the big time. "I love to represent Utah and that's been great, and hopefully someday I'll be able to represent the United States in some international competition."

E-MAIL: pthunell@desnews.com