Yokota senior figure skater Heimbach to turn pro

She was a precocious 8-year-old, seated beside her older sister Elliko, whom I was to interview about her rising status as a competitive swimmer, ranked No. 1 nationally in her signature event, the 50-meter butterfly, out of her home state of Pennsylvania.

"You just watch," Mariko Heimbach said, beaming. "Someday, you're going to write about me figure skating."

Sure enough, I have several times in the past few years as she's evolved into a competitive figure skater on the Japanese circuit.

But now, as a senior graduating from Yokota High School this week, Mariko has achieved one of her dreams -- an offer to turn pro from Disney On Ice.

Mariko had auditioned for Disney On Ice when the tour group visited Matsumoto last November and the offer came early this week, according to her father, Rick, an educational technologist for DODEA Pacific at Yokota.

Mariko will travel to Florida for training in August, then will tour with Disney On Ice from September to April as a cast member of "Mickey & Minnie's Magical Journey."

It will mean deferring college for awhile, but "I really think this is an excellent opportunity for her to bring joy to others traveling the country doing what she loves best," the elder Heimbach said.

Turns out Mariko also got an offer from the Prince Ice World show in Japan, but "when Walt calls, you've got to answer, right?" Rick Heimbach said.

More to come as we find out.


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Ornauer on AFN


Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)


Sept 28:Dave Ornauer is back with the latest on the Pacific sports scene.

May 22:Yokota has dominated in first year at D-II spring championsihps.

May 8: Dave Ornauer highlights a few athletes who are participating in the Kanto Plains track and field finals Saturday.