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Bay City's Olympic Rookie Izykowski Wins Bronze in 5000 Meter Relay

Community Supporters Jubilant As Local Skater Revives Skate Fever Here

February 26, 2006       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Alex Izykowski - Olympic Bronze

"Half of Bay City, Michigan, is here!" gasped a broadcaster on NBC, describing the atmosphere in the Palavela Saturday evening before the start of the short track speedskating 5000 meters relay.

Bay City got more mentions than Turin, Italy, for a while, a tribute to the campaign of support for local speedskater Alex Izykowski that became world news during the Winter Olympics.

The commentator mentioned Bay City several times and credited Izy, who he noted was "an Olympic rookie," fora "skillful pass" during the race.

The positive mention of his hometown was a bonus to the bronze medal that Alex Izykowski won in the roller derby brawl that is the short track relay.

We were not prepared for the on ice melee that the relay proved to be, especially since pre-race schedule information indicated that the race would be held in two heats with the best time deciding the winner.

Twenty skaters milling around, pushing each other aggressively on the exchanges, and the heart-wrenching passes while leaning on one hand and nearly falling on every turn -- it was a late night shocker as much as any Friday the 13th type thriller.

The fact that the 5-9, 160 pound, 22 year-old Western High graduate survived the ice brawl should have been enough for local folks. but they got a medal to boot, and bragging rights until the next Winter Games.

"We all put in so much work, so much pain, that it's great to come back and win a medal," said media star and U.S. relay team leader Apolo Anton Ohno.

Ohno's flashing blades and fearless style assured Izykowski and the U.S. team the iron on a ribbon when all appeared to be slipping away to the Italian team.

Korea set an Olympic 5000 meters relay record in 6:43.376, followed by team Canada in 6:43.707. The U.S. was more than four seconds behind Korea in 6:47.990, but Ohno had already skated three nerve-wracking 500 meter races, beating his Korean rival to the gold.

The relay bronzewas Ohno's fifth Olympic medal, tying him with the career high of winter games medals set by Eric Heiden.

You can see pictures of Alex Izykowski and the U.S. team that took the bronze medal in the 5000 meters relay on

Or, you may want to log on to , or , or many other websites that are featuring the reports of the Winter Olympics.

Besides Izykowski and Ohno, of Seattle, teammates were J.P.Kepka of St. Louis, Missouri, and Rusty Smith, of Long Beach, California.###

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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