Two strokes can’t keep Reno’s Christine Hotchkin from Pole Sport World Championships

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 12:11 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Christine Hotchkin has lived in Reno most of her life. As many kids do, she tried athletics, but not the ones most get into.

“It’s just a whole different piece of art when you have that kind of freedom and artistic expression,” she said of figure skating and pole sport - the two athletic feats she’s invested her time in.

Figure skating became Hotchkin’s first love – an investment so rich her first job after graduation from Bishop Manogue Catholic High School was with Disney on Ice as a signed professional.

Traveling with the show was great, but Hotchkin wanted more from life.

She completed her undergrad at CU Boulder in three years before wrapping up a separate law degree at Gonzaga.

Then came something many have never heard of.

“It’s basically like Cirque du Soleil but you get to travel and compete,” Hotchkin said of pole sport.

She got the recommendation from a friend who also had a background in aerial arts.

Though just three years into this new adventure in pole sport, Hotchkin was good. She had her four-minute routine down.

“All of a sudden my speech was kind of garbled and my left side was weak,” Hotchkin remembered one day as she got ready for bed.

The 31-year-old suffered a stroke. It came out of nowhere.

Two weeks later, she suffered another.

“Are these going to keep happening?” she remembered.

To this day, Hotchkin doesn’t know how, or why she suffered her two strokes. Her athletic and professional career was also unknown given the incidents and confusion surrounding them.

“The idea that I could not have (my life) anymore…that was terrifying,” Hotchkin said.

Despite the two sudden obstacles, Hotchkin kept training - though cautiously at first.

“When you’re on blood thinners obviously hitting your head is a huge risk. Which obviously as a figure skater and a gymnast that’s a very high, high risk,” Hotchkin laughed.

21 years of figure skating, ten years worth of aerial arts experience, and three years of pole sport were all up in the air. Would she build on those experiences or have to give them all up to focus on her health?

Hotchkin wasn’t going to give any of those up despite having physical weakness.

“Every day I’m going to be sure that I’m true to me, true to my dreams, and really just going for it,” she said of her mentality in recovering from the strokes and getting her life back.

In the spring of 2022 Hotchkin got healthy enough to compete at the Pole Sport National Championships in Tucson, Arizona. A third place finish guaranteed her a spot at the world championships this December.

“Team USA has been a dream of mine since I was…I mean, I can’t even remember...since I was a little girl,” an emotional Hotchkin said.

Now the athlete and lawyer is in Italy at the Pole Sports World Championships, and as she puts it, living.

“I have a couple more extreme moves that I’m putting in because I am just going to go for it. I’m not holding back,” Hotchkin said of her planned performance.