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Strong slider is still a champion

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

Olympic skeleton athlete Monika Wolowiec, a Polish citizen who lives and trains in Park City, became a true hero on Thursday in Turin.

She didn’t win the gold or the silver, in fact she finished in last place with a time of two minutes and 5.30 seconds, but her will and determination just to make it the Games makes her champion in the hearts of her coaches and supporters in Park City.

"I’m just so proud of her for sticking with it and going over there and I’m sure she’s proud," said Samantha Thein, owner of Photoworks where Wolowiec works when she’s not sliding.

According Steve Revelli, one of Wolowiec’s coaches at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) and Western Programs Manager for the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, her experience in Italy has not been in an easy one. He said that she received little support from the Polish Olympic Committee and was forced to prepare on the Italian track in Cesana Pariol all alone no coaches, no trainers, nobody.

"What an outstanding athlete to be out their all alone and to just qualify to be at the Games," Revelli said.

The Park City contingency of the Utah Skeleton and Bobsled Association set her up with everything that she needed this year and she received coaching from the USBSF ice team at the UOP track. Wolowiec only began sliding about three years ago.

All of her supporters spent the day anxiously waiting to see how Wolowiec and Katie Uhlaender, the sole American slider, performed.

"I would have liked to see Monika do well. All the women she was up against have been World Cup stars for years. This is only her second big race," Revelli said.

Wolowiec’s first "big" race came earlier this year, when she qualified for the Olympics at the Challenge Cup in Konigsee, Germany.

"I’m sure she would have liked to win, but just to be there I’m sure she thought it was great," Thein said.

Wolowiec marched with her fellow Polish athletes in the Opening ceremonies and will spend the rest of the month in Europe.

"She has such a good spirit and I’m sure she is having the time of her life," Thein said.

Revelli and the other UOP coaches have been in contact with Wolowiec by email since she arrived in Turin to help her with her training, but they are waiting for her homecoming to shower her with compliments.

"I’m just going to congratulate her for making what we call "The Big Show" and competing at that level," Revelli said.

Revelli pointed out that the Cesana Pariol track is almost a quarter-mile longer than the UOP ice track, making it about two miles long. Wolowiec finished two seconds behind the rest of the field, which Revelli says is phenomenal considering the track length and Wolowiec’s relative newness to international competition.

Uhlaender finished sixth with a final time of 2:02.30.


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