Sarah Hughes Gets Key to the City

Sarah Hughes Gets Key to the City

NEW YORK - Olympic champion Sarah Hughes  got the key to city and rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange  on Monday as part of the extended celebration of her surprise figure skating gold medal.

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"Everybody's been spoiling me so much lately," the 16-year-old Long Island high school student said at a City Hall ceremony. "Everybody's been so friendly. The atmosphere couldn't be nicer. It's so supportive."

Hughes won the free skate portion of the figure skating competition at the Salt Lake City Games on Feb. 21, vaulting from fourth to first place to take the gold medal.

Since then, her life has been a whirlwind of national television interviews, swarming photographers and chauffeured limousines. She met Celine Dion  and the Backstreet Boys  at the Grammy Awards. And her picture soon will be featured on boxes of Wheaties cereal.

In her hometown of Great Neck on Long Island, Hughes is particularly big. A parade there in her honor is scheduled for next weekend.

"A lot of the stores have little pictures in their window," she said. "All these people who I've known for years and (with whom) I've always shared my dreams and my goals and my skating, so it was great to have them watch and be able to share that exciting time with me."

Alas, the real world  is beginning to intrude: On Wednesday, Hughes resumes classes at Great Neck North High School.

"It's been great but things are winding down," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "I've been able to go places in limos, but I think it'll be good for me to get back to school and start skating (at the local rink) again."

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