EL PASO, Texas - Nerves quickly turned to big smiles at Sunday's Special Olympics figure skating competition.
"This is an event we do every year. It's for them to show what they've done, their improvements from the year," coach Esther Gonzalez said. "They love figure skating. They have a passion that whenever they skate, it's just -- they feel free."
Five skaters participated in the event, and they all received medals at the end.
"I'm so happy from my competition," skater Natalia Henry said. "The medals from the special olympics is so much fun."
Henry, 30, has been skating since she was six years old. She will be competing at the statewide level in February.
"She's started with me seven years ago," Gonzalez said. "We've been coaching her. She's really good. She's improving."
Henry lives in Mesilla and has to commute over 50 miles to the rink in El Paso.
"[Skating] has translated to many benefits in the rest of her life," said Krystyna Henry, Natalia's mother. "She does all sorts of things people would think she couldn't do, and I attribute it to skating."
Natalia is no stranger to success. She took home a gold medal at the Special Olympics National Games in 2000. She has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
"I can't encourage parents of special needs kids enough, to put them on the ice as young as possible," Krystyna said.