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Speed Skater Makes Olympic Bid

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February 13, 2006

By Alexis Crawford

Northwestern student Maggie Crowley represented the United States Feb. 12 in speed skating at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Crowley, 19, finished 22nd among 28 skaters in the 3,000-meter race. Another 19-year-old -- Ireen Wust of the Netherlands -- won the gold medal, surprising favored veterans from Germany and Canada with a personal best time of 4:02.43.

Crowley finished just under 15 seconds back at 4:17.37.

The ice has always been home for Crowley, who has taken time off from Northwestern to focus on her skating. She started figure skating as a child, not long after learning how to walk, and then played hockey. But even when her mother found an ad in the local paper for a speed skating club and urged her to sign up, the Olympics were a distant dream.

“When I was little I thought I was going to be the next Michele Kwan,” Crowley said. “But now that I made it to the Olympics, I can’t even believe it.”

While hockey is still one of her favorite sports, Crowley loves the speed and the mental and physical training that speed skating demands. She says that the people she works with make it all worth it. She is coached by four-time Olympian Nancy Swider-Peltz whose daughter, Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr., is Crowley’s training partner.

But combining her education and sports goals required sacrifices for Crowley along the way. Instead of joining the rest of the U.S. speed skating team in Salt Lake City, Utah, she opted to stay near home and attend Northwestern while continuing her training.

“Being on the national team would mean I would live there with everybody,” said Crowley. “It’s just a little more convenient because your resources are right there for you.”

Crowley, a two-time member of the U.S. junior world team, was crowned the 2004 U.S. junior champion and finished second at last season's event. She was third overall at the 2005 senior-level U.S. championship.

Leading up to the winter games, Crowley worked out at the Evanston Athletic Club and trained at one of the country’s few speed skating rinks in Milwaukee.

She originally enrolled at Northwestern in 2004 in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and hopes to major in economics when she resumes her studies.