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Local Sports

The Pressbox

Just chillin’

For the past two weekends, I’ve been chillin’. The first weekend, we were all pretty much forced to chill with that cold, cold , cold weather. This past weekend I was taking it easy — but working — with the window open for most of Sunday.

But while I was chillin’, I was keeping my eye on the road to Sochi, Russia, — the 2014 Winter Olympics. I know. I know. It’s about ice and snow but I love to watch the Olympics, both winter and summer.

I actually had a personal connection with a U.S.A. track athlete competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Isiah Young, who is from Junction City, Kan., ran and set records at Allen Community College in Iola, Kan., while I was the sports editor of Iola’s newspaper. I watched him develop under a strong coach for two years.

Young transferred to Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. Young continued to set records at the NCAA Division I level then moved into the elite level, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic track and field team in the 200-meter dash. Young made it to the Olympic semifinals.

Young finished his career at Ole Miss this past spring. He was a five-time All- American, including four first-team honors. On May 23, 2013 at the NCAA East Region Championships, Young joined the 10-second club running the 100 meters in 9.99 with a +0.3 aiding wind. At the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Young qualified for the 2013 World Championships in Athletics by finishing second in the 200 meters. His time of 19.86 (+1.6) tied him with Donald Quarrie, Maurice Greene and Justin Gaitlin for the 24th best of all time.

No, I don’t know any athlete on the U.S. Winter Olympics team. But on the first weekend of January while I was curled up under a blanket, the final speed skaters were selected for the team. This weekend was the figure skating championships to determine who will represent the U.S.

My favorite figure skater of all time is Dorothy Hamill, who is a year older than I. She is the 1976 Olympic champion. I loved watching her skate. I still remember seeing her on the ice in the 1974 World Championships in Munich, Germany, being visibly upset as she took the ice following a German skater. Hamill left the ice because of the boos of the crowd, not directed at her but at the judges’ marks for the German skater. Hamill composed herself, skated a great program and won the silver medal.

Of course, I was one of the millions who watched the 1980 U.S.A. hockey team upset the Soviet Union and go on to win the gold medal. Our family enjoyed watching the different winter sports — luge and skeleton are pretty scary then there’s curling.

There’s speed skating and short-track speed skating, figure skating along with bobsled, biatholon and all the skiing — alpine, cross-country, freestyle, Nordic combined, ski jumpin and snowboarding.

I was disappointed to hear Lindsey Vonn won’t be competing again this Olympics. The defending Olympic downhill gold medalist had to bow out because of a knee injury.

The 2014 Winter Olympics are Feb. 6-23 in Sochi, Russia. The opening ceremony if Feb. 7.

So, I plan on doing a little more chillin’ over those days in February, when I’m home. I still get a chill and thrill of victory when I watch U.S. athletes compete in the Olympics.

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