Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Witty strives to stay atop the hill

With a tattooed leprechaun on her hip and thoughts of a third Olympic medal in her head, Chris Witty will compete today in her third Olympic Games in the past four years.

While most Winter Olympians enjoy a break for training in the years between their national competitions, Witty was training, too — but for the Summer Olympics in Sydney.

Representing the United States in both speed skating and cycling, Witty has a plethora of Olympic experience on her resume.

This week, however, Witty is focusing on the ice.

At age 26, Witty will skate in her third Winter Olympics, representing the United States in the 500-, 1000- and 1500-meter speed skating events.

A native of West Allis, Wis., Witty glided into the world of speed skating when she became the 1996 overall world sprint champion. She roared into the hearts of Wisconsinites in 1998 when she rekindled the state’s Olympic pride once fueled by Olympic heroes Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair.

With her bronze medal in the 1500-meter event and silver in the 1000-meter skate, Witty left the Nagano Games as one of a handful of rising American stars.

However, Witty’s speed skating career began long before the Nagano Olympics.

She began skating at the age of nine when she won a public speed skating competition and a coach recognized her potential.

With the right kind of coaching and a will to win, Witty has flourished into one of the world’s leading female speed skaters. It is that same will that has pushed Witty into trying new things and expanding her athletic abilities into the world of cycling.

In the 2000 Summer Olympics, Witty became just the ninth U.S. athlete to compete in both the Winter and Summer Olympics. In Sydney, Witty competed in the 500-meter cycling time trial and recorded a fifth-place finish.

But once her competition was over, Witty wasted no time putting her skates back on. On the day of the closing ceremonies, Witty was back on the ice preparing for the 2002 Salt Lake Games.

“My bike is in the garage for now, and I’m not sure when I’ll ride it next,” Witty said. “If I do ride next summer, I’m thinking I will only ride nationally. I need a little break from major competitions for a while, since I just had an Olympics last summer and one this winter.”

On March 3, 2001, Witty broke the current world record in the 1000-meter speed skating event with a time of 1:14.58. The time still stands as the American record and remains one of Witty’s proudest moments.

It would appear that Witty needs no motivation for these Olympics. For the first time since 1996, she isn’t favored to medal in the 1000-meter speed skate, the event she considers her strength.

But the Wisconsin native won’t let it get her down.

As with many athletes, Witty is finding her stay on top of the world of speed skating much harder than the hill she had to climb to get there.

“OK, now that I’m here, how fast can I go?” Witty asked herself with regard to what motivates her. “How much stronger can I get?”

With America looking on, Witty will try to add to her collection of medals as she competes in the 500-meter race today and the 1000-meter and 1500-meter events next week.

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