Biddeford resident Denise Giuvelis has circled a roller rink thousands of times over the past two decades. Something she couldn't have imagined when she laced up her skates for the first time.
"I was really little. I was six. My cousin, he's a couple years older than me, he had a birthday party. He got a month of free lessons with the party. So he gave them to me, because he didn't want them and I got hooked,"
Like every kid growing up she was curious about more traditional sports like soccer and basketball.
"I tried school sports. It was fun, but it did not mean as much to me as skating."
And that's evident in her devotion to the sport. The 10-time national medalist finally got the gold she coveted this summer.
"Just pure excitement and joy, finally being able to achieve what I've been striving for pretty much since 1995 when I really started getting into competing."
While the thought of figure skating conjures up images of triple axles, the 26 year-old's title came in something a bit more traditional.
"It's kind of like ballroom dancing where you have your tangos and waltzes and stuff like that. You have a set pattern on the floor of steps that you have to do."
The demands of juggling practice and work for the UNE alum are challenging enough on its own. Now add a lengthy drive to Massachusetts for each session, since Maine doesn't have any skating clubs.
"I drive down after work on Thursday nights and then again on Sunday mornings."
The road to the top has been completed for Denise, but the rewards from medals to constantly feeling like a kid again is worth all the work.
"It's been going so well. And that helps after a stressful day of work just put on a pair of skates and it makes everything better."
Giuvelis intends to compete at an even higher level next year. She also continues to teach and coach area youth when she's not training or competing.