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Neshannock resident Melinda McMullen, left, stands with Emily Hughes. McMullen skated with Hughes in the closing ceremonies of the Ice Skating World Recreational Team Championships in June.

A little over five years ago, Melinda McMullen couldn’t even stand on ice skates.

Although she was only 6 years old at the time, the Neshannock Township resident never thought she would get the opportunity to share the ice with an Olympic figure skater. That, however, became a reality last week when the 11-year-old McMullen skated in the closing ceremonies of the Ice Skating World Recreational Team Championships with Emily Hughes, who competed in the Torino Winter Olympics earlier this year.

“It was really an honor to skate with Emily Hughes,” said McMullen, who skates four days a week at the Hess Ice Rank. “I really enjoyed the entire experience.”

McMullen, a fifth-grader at St. Vitus School, participated in her first ISI World Championships on June 23 through June 29 in Marlboro, Mass., and was one of two girls randomly picked to skate in the closing ceremony with Emily Hughes, a sister of 2002 Olympic ladies figure skating champion Sarah Hughes.

“I was very proud of her,” her mother, Heidi McMullen, said. “A few years ago she could barely stand on the ice, and now she’s a freestyle-three skater. She’s very shy, but her goal is to become an Olympic figure skater one day.”

Melinda, who skated with a team from the Skating Club of Greater Youngstown, placed in six different events. She had second-place finishes in both the couple spotlight and the light entertain spotlight; two fourth-place finishes in freestyle-three and interpretive; and two fifth-place finishes in solo compulsory and jumps and spins.

The competition featured 112 teams and more than 2,000 skaters from all over the world. Melinda’s team finished 12th overall.

“She has also made so many friends through skating,” Heidi said.

By way of meeting and greeting other skaters, Melinda traded collectable pins, coming home with 40 from around the United States and all over the world.

Melinda plans on attending next year’s championship, which will be held in Chicago.

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