It'll be interesting to see whether concentrating fully on skating gives Rachael any kind of boost in style and finesse. I hope it does; I'd love to see her get an international medal after her hard work and consistency. She's not a skater who gives me gooseflesh, the way Mao or YuNa do, but something rebellious in me wants her to succeed brilliantly, largely because she isn't glamorous or willowy as we expect our skaters to be. Skating needs the glory of variety!

As for her academic career, I have the feeling that even if she stretches it out, she'll still follow it to its fullest potential. One of skating's most intelligent and motivated students, Paul Wylie, took about a generation (exaggerating a bit here) to complete his undergraduate studies and then take a graduate degree, both at Harvard. And then there's Michelle, who finished her B.A. at 28 or so and still managed to muster up the energy and commitment for grad school.