Olympics’ opening ceremony motivates Rock Hill speed skater

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comFebruary 8, 2014 

Speedskating Trials Olympics

Lauren Cholewinski skates to a first-place finish in the women's 500 meters at the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials in Kearns, Utah, last December. Cholewinski, originally from Rock Hill, S.C., is hoping for a top-15 finish. GEORGE FREY - AP

GEORGE FREY — Associated Press

  • Vote for Lauren’s mom

    Lauren Cholewinski has nominated her mother, Helen, for the OC Tanner Inspiration Award, given by the company that handcrafts the Olympic rings for USA athletes. The winner of the inspiration award will get a 14k gold commemorative ring. To vote for Helen Cholewinski go to: www.octanner.com/olympics/2014/lauren-cholewinski/

    In her nomination, Lauren wrote:

    “My mother worked three jobs and paid her own way through college. Later on, after her first divorce, she lived in a car with three babies (my older brother Clay, myself, and my younger sister Nicole). She pooled all the money she had and put everything into an idea for a business. Now she successfully runs that business with my uncle.

    “She showed me that no matter how low you get in life and how hard things may seem, you can always turn your life around if you’re willing to work hard.

    “My mother is the strongest woman I know and has pushed me to chase my dreams no matter how hard they seem and never stopped believing in me. I owe her everything and am truly inspired by her every single day.”

On Tuesday Lauren Cholewinski of Rock Hill competes in her second Olympics, racing in women’s 500-meter speed skating at Sochi.

Cholewinski skated a 1:16:18 in her two 500 meter races at the U.S. team trials, securing the third spot on a four-member team. At the 2010 games in Vancouver, Canada, she finished 30th out of 35 skaters.

This time around, she wants to win.

“I know what I’m up against,” she said before leaving for Sochi. “It’s a total different ball game.”

Cholewinski, a graduate of Northwestern High School, reflects about the game’s opening ceremony on Friday and what’s to come in an email exchange with The Herald.

Q: Describe the energy at this year’s opening ceremonies.

A: Nothing quite tops the surreal feelings you get during the walk. Leading up to it, the countries compete in chants to see who can get the loudest and everyone is just full blast .

Q: How did it feel stepping out with Team USA a second time?

A: I felt amazing!! I got out in front this time so I felt like we were kind of leading the country out. Most of us almost wanted to start running we were so excited to get out on the stage and stand up for our country.

Q:What did you think of your outfits?

A: I loooove the outfits! I will probably wear the sweaters all the time I think they are wonderful! Not sure the white pants will last too long in my house, though.

Q: What’s it like in Sochi?

A: Everything looks fantastic from the athletes side. The village is complete, the venues are beautiful and everything really looks great.

Q: Since the opening ceremonies are over, how are you feeling now that competition is really getting underway?

A: I’m more motivated than ever. It’s just the extra little push I think we all needed to really get us amped and ready to give it all we got!

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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