USOC Opens Wallet for Inline Speed Skaters
The United States Olympic Committee will provide $72,000 to help send members of the national inline speed skating team to this summer's world championships in South Korea.
The news will come as a great relief to athletes and their parents, although how much each skater will get is still unclear.
The per-skater cost for the week-long World Championships is $4650, which covers air fare, food and lodging.
If split evenly among the 32 World Team members, the USOC's generosity would provide $2250 for each skater. But it is not clear how the money will be divvied-up.
Richard Hawkins, the executive director of USA Roller Sports, the national governing body for inline skating, said the organization's executive committee is deciding how to allocate the money.
"I should know the final amounts for each athlete this week," he said.
The committee may choose not to pay (or to pay a smaller portion of) the travel expenses for skaters who qualified for the marathon squad only.
Those 14 skaters will compete in only one event at the World Championships: the marathon. Skaters on the regular squad usually compete in multiple events, including the marathon.
The U.S. Olympic Committee has traditionally provided USA Roller Sports with money for World Team travel. Last year, it provided $100,000.
But earlier this year, the USOC announced it was cutting off Roller Sports. It said it couldn't justify funding because the agency lacked any kind of program designed specifically to funnel athletes into the Olympics.
USA Roller Sports apparently got the message. Within a few months, it started talks with US Speedskating, the national governing body for ice speed skating, on developing a joint inline-to-ice program.
Under the program, several top inline speed skaters would be selected each year to participate in an 18-month ice training program.
This inline-to-ice "pipeline" is just what the USOC was looking for, said Steve Roush, the organization's chief of sports performance.
"They are still in the planning stages, but they are coming together and talking," Roush.
"This is the kind of integration we will be supportive of — and not just with verbal cheerleading but with resources."
World Team mom Teresa Cannon of Danville, Virg., was delighted with the news.
"This is wonderful," said Cannon, whose son is junior team standout Chad Horne.
Cannon and her son have already paid the first of three $1550 installments for the August trip to Anyang, South Korea. They raised about half of the money from community donations.
"This will help tremendously with the second payment," she said.
"We have been wishing for this to happen for so long. It's just a shame when you've got kids of this ability who can't go to worlds because they can't afford it."