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WASHINGTON — Wonder Musademba spent this weekend working in Baghdad, but his mind was on triple jumps and spins in Colorado.

The civilian engineer began his 20th month of support work for U.S. forces in Iraq, but his daughter was competing in the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Twelve-year-old Kristine is an up-and-coming skater on the verge of national stardom.

“Usually, when she’s had major competitions, I’ve been able to take a break and go see her,” Musademba said. “This time, I just couldn’t get back.

“It’s tough, because I’m nervous for her even from here.”

In the end, dad had little to worry about: Kristine finished first in the intermediate competition, besting a field of the top young skaters in America. The contest has been a launching pad for U.S. skating greats such as Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski.

Musademba found out about the win Sunday afternoon; he received a call from his excited daughter.

“I just can’t believe it,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep all night, and I was nervous until I heard from her.

“I kept thinking, this is the national competition, so maybe she’ll do really well and finish somewhere high. But she goes to school and does all everything else a young girl does, and some of these girls do nothing but train, so I didn’t know if she could win it all.”

Musademba calls home nearly every day to check on her progress, admitting that it’s difficult to be so far away from his daughter as she grows up.

Kristine and Musademba’s wife, Mila Rey, live in Silver Spring, Md., just outside Washington.

He grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to the United States in 1985, but has called Baghdad home since early 2004.

Last month, Kristine won an intermediate title in the Southern Atlantic Regional Championships, completing three successful triple jumps during the contest, while he worked on construction planning and payroll management for defense contractor AECOM.

“It’s tough, but sometimes that is life,” he said. “When we talk on the phone, I try to pump her up as much as I can, give her a little more energy before the competition.”

He did get to see her in several competitions earlier this year, and expected her to do well in this weekend’s contest. Two years ago, at just 10 years old, she finished ninth in the same meet.

“I’m just so proud of her,” he said. “My energy level is just so high right now.

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