Wednesday, February 11, 1998
Wotherspoon's the pride of Alberta
"I was still trying to get to sleep at 3:30," reported family friend Cam Scheelar, "because my mind was filling up with things we need to do next!"
But then, what's missing a little shut-eye when one of your own has won an Olympic medal?
"I love it," said Scheelar. "And it just keeps getting better."
Oh yes, Jeremy Wotherspoon's performance in the 500-metres was, without exaggeration, hyperbole, or embellishment, the talk of the town in Red Deer yesterday.
"I'm just thrilled to be part of this whole deal," declared Dr. Bob Carter, a plastic surgeon and the head coach at the Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club during Wotherspoon's formative years. "It's the biggest thing I've ever been involved with. And probably ever will be."
At Notre Dame High School, where Wotherspoon's sisters Danielle and Megan attend, principal Bob Kruchten quipped "you'd have to be either stone deaf or dead" not to have heard about it by early morning.
"We're delighted as all get-out for the boy," said Kruchten, Wotherspoon's Grade 10 religion teacher at Camille J. Lerouge, which he graduated from in 1994, two years before Notre Dame opened and Lerouge was turned into a French immersion school.
Kruchten said Notre Dame is hoping to honor Wotherspoon at a student rally next month. "The kids here have been sending him e-mails like mad," he chuckled.
School was where the magnitude of it really hit home for Megan Wotherspoon.
"Lots of people were coming up to me, congratulating my brother, talking about how they and their parents watched it, and how excited they got about it," said Megan, a speed skater herself, who watched at home with her grandparents, Edith and George Kirtzinger.
"It was really exciting, but it also made you kind of nervous, because even after he skated you still had to watch all the others skate too. I thought he could do it, just because he's proved himself this year."
At the house of Gord Deans, coaching coordinator at the club, it was not unlike Christmas.
"We all went to bed early, then I got everyone up at 12:30," he said. "I was a little anxious. I didn't know if the pressure was on too much. We were on the edge of our seat."
"My feeling was he would medal," declared Carter. "I thought he would skate a much better race than the first one. And the lane he had was much better for him."
Meanwhile Scheelar, who spearheaded the campaign which raised the funds to send Jeremy's parents, Sharon and Bill, and sister Danielle, to Nagano, is putting together a bash for March 8 at the Centrium.
"We'll try to lure any and all Olympians we can to it, thanking them for making Canada famous," said Scheelar. "I'm going to try and get CKRD to do a montage of events to show on the wall of Centrium. With the climax being the showing off of Jeremy's silver, and hopefully, gold medals."