Posted: Jan 27, 2010 1:00 PM by Mike Moran, Bea Karnes
Updated: Jan 27, 2010 1:00 PM
Mike Moran worked for the USOC aschief communications officer for nearly 25 years. He's now with The Sports Corp.
As we approach the Vancouver Olympics, here's his latest musing:
Good morning, Colorado Springs.......now you have something really special to talk about.
Did you see the kid from Cheyenne Mountain High on Saturday night on NBC?
With all due respect to Marlo Thomas, "That Girl," you know......Rachael Flatt.
A couple of months ago, I was a judge on a Saturday morning when the Broadmoor Skating Club presented a series of home-made video tape productions made by the skaters themselves, which were "commercials" to promote the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.........Rachael Flatt's crew had a nice one that talked about traditions and the sort of "day-in-the-life" of a typical skater training here in Colorado Springs.....this exercise is just part of the kind of well-rounded experience that the Broadmoor Skating Club pupils receive while they train and prepare for whatever is next on the tough, demanding figure skating road.........as I watched Flatt's joy Saturday night after winning the U.S. National ladies crown in Spokane, and the trip to Vancouver next month as a member of the United States Olympic Team, I recalled the first time I ever saw her skate......it was the 2005 State Games of America, here in Colorado Springs, and there she was, winning the gold medal in the Junior Ladies division, just one of more than 1,000 skaters from across the country, all ages and skill levels..........now, she's the toast of the town, but her story is one of hundreds you will hear about in Vancouver, if you haven't already.....that story and countless others are the ones that separate Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the rest of the bunch........had enough of Tiger, A-Rod, McGwire, LeBron and the rest?.........Flatt became the first Broadmoor Skating Club senior woman to make an Olympic Team since Jill Trenary and Caryn Kadavy won trips to Calgary.......now, she's earned the chance to put her name up there with another young woman who lived and trained here, the magnificent Peggy Fleming, the 1968 gold medalist and American heartthrob........but in Spokane, her dream seemed to take secondary status in the frenzied vortex of sports journalism and the dizziness of its coverage of skating, which reached its nutty crescendo in 1994 during the Tonya-Nancy soap opera....most of the writers were riveted on the compelling return of 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen, now 25, coached by the iconic John Nicks.........It's women and girls," Scott Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic champion, said to the New York Times' Jere Longman of the difference between Cohen and her competitors. "I don't want it to sound cruel. But what she has is a maturity and a confidence that other skaters are acquiring."............ "The sport is always looking for new stars, and right now they're in short supply," said Shep Goldberg, Michelle Kwan's agent. "If Sasha makes the Olympic team, she'll be the biggest American star in the Games, including Lindsey Vonn, given the popularity of figure skating," Goldberg told the Times.............but not on Saturday in Spokane, this was Rachael's time........mentored now by the great Dorothy Hamill, she nailed seven triples and was the only skater in the top group to land a triple-triple combination on the way to a dazzling 200.11 points, right there at the top of the world's best.........Cohen, gracious and mature, finished fourth.........Hamilton was chastened and admitted he was wrong and that Flatt was perfect under the complex new scoring system.........the 1984 Olympic champion described Flatt to Longman and others as someone who "punched her time clock every moment, she's consistent and solid, you can depend on her" ...........when it was over, all Flatt could say other than how thrilled she was, is that she thought she would come back to Colorado Springs after the Opening Ceremony in Vancouver on February 11 to attend her classes at Cheyenne Mountain until returning for the skating competition, which takes place in the second half of the Games.........that's not unusual for this dazzling young woman, a straight-A student who has applied to institutions like Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Duke, UCLA and Denver........her Pre-Olympic routine may now include a daily dose of Advanced Placement English, AP Physics, AP Calculus and AP French along with her grueling training at the World Arena.........Flatt now dons the same U.S. mantle worn in Salt Lake in 2002, when no American woman was expected to do anything, only to see another elegant teenager, Sara Hughes, a New York state kid (and Yale grad) come from nowhere to upset the field and take home the gold medal.......Flatt and her folks moved to Colorado Springs from California in 2000 so she could train with the BSC and chase her dream.......her Dad is an MIT grad with a Ph.D in chemical engineering, and her mom is also called "Doctor," with a degree in molecular biology.......What's ahead for the teenager and her family is precisely the reason that Colorado Springs can embrace her and the label of "The Place Where Olympic Dreams Begin" ..............It's the reason why the USOC, the National Governing Bodies and the Olympic presence are so special and meaningful for our community.........Flatt's dream, like those of more than 300,000 men and women who have trained here, lived here and struggled here for the last 32 years, now seems to be intensely possible to achieve...........as it was for the 20 young men chosen here after the 1979 National Sports Festival concluded to represent the USA at Lake Placid in the 1980 Olympic Ice Hockey tournament, and we all know how that worked out........how many times now will we hear the words "Colorado Springs," on NBC during the magical seventeen days from Vancouver?.....or hear Rachael Flatt's story and see cutaways of her proud parents? Imagine the emotion and screaming over at Cheyenne Mountain High on some maybe-so-special morning when Rachael walks into the school with her book bag and her headset on.............wake up and smell the coffee, Colorado Springs, she's ours, and you have to love it!