Winning Olympic spots twice as nice for speed skater Bailey

January 09, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- One day it's an eating disorder. Another day it's a sinus infection. She's had to overcome a death in her family, find a new coach and another sport.

But speed skater Chantal Bailey will compete for the United States in the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, next month.

Finally.

Bailey won another spot on the U.S. Olympic Long Track Speedskating team yesterday by winning the 3,000 meters in 4 minutes, 33.30 seconds. She missed a spot for the 500 meters by finishing fifth, but she earned a spot in the 1,500-meter race Friday with a second-place finish to Bonnie Blair.

Bailey finished in 2:09.2 while Blair, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, had a time of 2:04.85.

"I'm thrilled beyond belief," said Bailey, 28, who didn't begin her speed skating career until six years ago. "That's 23 years of dreaming of being an Olympian. And now I'm going, and not competing just once, but twice."

Bailey's first dream of becoming an Olympian came in 1976. That's when she saw figure skater Dorothy Hamill win an Olympic gold medal, and Bailey of Champaign, Ill., wanted to become another Hamill.

So, Bailey put in years of practice and spent summers in Colorado training. She had mastered her double jumps and was working on her triples, but then her work habits and body began to slow down.

At age 14, Bailey was diagnosed with bulimia, an eating disorder. It took her seven years to get over it.

"People said I looked terrible," said Bailey. "I had to quit because I couldn't even jump off the ground. I couldn't pull my leg out when I would spin just because of the gravity. I didn't think that bulimia would be able to take over my life. It did."

Bailey began waiting tables in Denver, and enrolled in Denver Technical College, where she earned a degree in sports medicine technology.

She kept skating, but more for exercise than competition. One day at a local rink, Bailey noticed a woman speed skating and decided to give it a try. She bought a $6 pair of skates at a garage sale in Boulder, Colo.

Bailey was 22 then, but still brash.

"I remember telling my coach I was going to the Olympics, and he just laughed and said, 'Wait a minute, not so fast.' "

But Bailey was just being honest, and she kept remembering the words written in her high school freshman yearbook by Blair, who was a year ahead of her.

"She wrote at the end that I really think you should be a speed skater," said Bailey.

By 1988, Bailey was training in Milwaukee. She missed making the national team by two spots that year. Two years later, her weight was back up to a healthy 160 pounds and she qualified for the national team.

But in 1991, her father died and Bailey struggled through practices. She had to bring in former Olympic coach Mike Crowe to help piece her athletic and personal life back together.

"A coach can play many roles -- one of a parent, teacher, disciplinarian or whatever," said Crowe. "But sometimes an athlete just needs someone to talk to."

Bailey rebounded and was the 1993 all-around national champion with a first place in the 5,000 and a second in the 3,000 meters. But two months before the trials started last weekend, she developed a sinus infection and had to take antibiotics because she was allergic to something inside indoor rinks.

"She's solid right now, but I believe she can get better within the next month," said Crowe.

Bailey said: "I've been fighting a lot of old demons in my head, but I've won. This year, I want to be up there in the world. I want to be on the podium. I don't want to watch."

* Both Blair and Dan Jansen have qualified to compete in the Olympic 500- , 1,000- and 1,500-meter races.

Men 500

1. Dan Jansen, West Allis, Wis., 36.30. 2. Dave Cruikshank, Northbrook, Ill., 37.41. 3. David Besteman, Madison, Wis., 37.64. 4. Nathaniel Mills, Evanston, Ill., 37.83. 5. Casey FitzRandolph, Verona, Wis., 37.99. 6. Brendan Eppert, St. Louis, Mo., 38.19. 7. Marty Pierce, St. Francis, Wis., 38.58. 8. Heath Haster, White Bear Lake, Minn., 38.59. 9. Eric Klein, Chicago, 39.04. 10. Ryan Shimabukuro, Honolulu, Hawaii, 39.05.

5,000

1. KC Boutiette, Tacoma, Wash., 7:05.96. 2. David Tamburrino, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 7:07.14. 3. Brian Wanek, Mequon, Wis., 7:07.80. 4. John Singer, Arlington Heights, Ill., 7:18.77. 5. Timothy Hoffman, Milwaukee, 7:20.59. 6. Brian Smith, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 7:21.75. 7. Brian Kretschmann, Brookfield, Wis., 7:25.15. 8. David Dohnal, Wauwatosa, Wis., 7:33.49. 9. Cory Carpenter, Brookfield, Wis., 7:36.12. 10. Marc Norman, Sterling Heights, Mich., 7:40.43.

Women 500

1. Bonnie Blair, Champaign, Ill., 39.77. 2. Michelle Kline, Circle Pines, Minn., 41.64. 3. Peggy Clasen, Roseville, Minn., 41.70. 4. Kristen Talbot, Schuylerville, N.Y., 41.79. 5. Chantal Bailey, Champaign, Ill., 41.89. 6. Christine Witty, West Allis, Wis., 42.10. 7. Moira D'Andrea, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 42.18. 8. Becky Sundstrom, Glen Ellyn, Ill., 42.53. 9. Mary Brophy, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 42.79. 10. Christine Scheels, New Berlin, Wis., 43.25.

3,000

1. Chantal Bailey, 4:33.30. 2. Christine Scheels, 4:34.35. 3. Angela Zuckerman, Whitefish Bay, Wis., 4:36.05. 4. Moira D'Andrea, 4:37.04. 5. Becky Sundstrom, 4:41.14. 6. Nancy Swider-Peltz, Park Ridge, Ill, 4:43.95. 7. Cory Goelz, Buffalo, N.Y., 4:46.13. 8. Kirstin Holum, Waukesha, Wis., 4:47.17. 9. Hillary Mills, Evanston, Ill., 4:50.05. 10. Kim Stryzkalski, East Troy, Wis., 4:50.20.

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