By Rachel Southmayd
The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)
When Lauren Cholewinski was a little girl in Rock Hill, her mom wasn’t a fan of day care. But she had a friend at the local roller rink, then called Roller Magic, so she dropped her children off there instead.
And Cholewinski, now 25, a self-described “rink rat,” was hooked.
Years of skating later, first on inline skates, then on ice, Cholewinski is headed to her second Winter Olympic Games in just a few short weeks. She qualified to compete on the world’s biggest stage, or rink, rather, at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“I always saw people in the Olympics and thought they were neat,” she said.
But when she was a kid, Cholewinski never dreamed that could be her one day, because she was an inline skater. In Rock Hill, there wasn’t any ice. But then, other inline skaters, including her brother, started making the switch to ice.
“After I saw someone else take the first step, it dawned on me I could be in the Olympics,” she said. “I could do this.”
And she did. Cholewinski, who attended Sullivan Middle School and Northwestern High School, moved to Salt Lake City, where thousands of winter athletes go to train.
Four years ago, she secured a trip to the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada, qualifying to race in the women’s 500 meter race.
“The first time, I’d only been competing for two and a half seasons,” she said. “I was so excited just to make the team.”
In Vancouver, Cholewinski placed 30th out of 35 eligible skaters. But it didn’t matter four years ago, she said.
This time around, she wants to win.
“I know what I’m up against,” she said. “It’s a total different ball game.”
At last weekend’s trials, Cholewinski skated a 1:16:18 in her two 500 meter races, securing the third spot on a four-member team behind winner Heather Richardson (1:14.19) and Brittany Bowe (1:15.51).