LAGUNA NIGUEL (CBSLA.com) — A Southern California teenager has accomplished a feat that hasn’t been done in 14 years.
Kaylee Finnegan, 15, has become the first American to win a Scottish highland world championship in the 21st century, beating out hundreds of the world’s best competitors in the 12-15 year age group for highland dancing.
Finnegan, who picked up Scottish highland dancing at the age of three, explains that the moves involved add up to match some of the world’s toughest physically demanding competitions.
“One of our dances in the equivalent of sprinting a mile, at the same time as wearing a seven-to-ten pound wool kilt, and smiling with your arms above your head,” Finnegan said.
Kaylee’s mother, who was born in Scotland, was the inspiration for her daughter after performing in competitions.
“She loved it,” Kaylee’s mother Phyllis Finnegan said. “She loved the audience and clapping, and being out there and experimenting with it. She just loved it. She hasn’t stopped loving it since then.”
Kaylee began competing a couple of years after picking the dance up. Now, in the middle of her teenage years, she can call herself a world champion.
“At first it was just disbelief, because I had been working toward it for so long so many years, and I almost wouldn’t let myself believe it,” Finnegan said of her championship.
Among the many cups and trophies in Kaylee’s room is the first Scottish World Championship cup that anyone from California has ever won.
Only five Americans have ever taken the cup home since 1910.
“It’s not easily given to Americans, we have to work for it,” Finnegan said. “And it’s nice to know that Americans can do it, and I can show that to the next generation.”