Prairie du Chien native sliding in Sochi 2014
Updated On: Feb 04 2014 07:25:08 PM CST
For Matt Antoine, there's just something about the rush of racing.
"He likes speed," his mother Mary says. "He and his brother and his father had always followed the formula 1 car races."
"I think the idea of speed just fascinated him," says his former English teacher, Marge Johnson. "You know, going 80 miles per hour headfirst down an ice tunnel."
This month, that's exactly what Matt Antoine is doing. He's representing the U.S. - and the Coulee Region - in the Sochi Olympics' skeleton competition.
If you've never heard of the sport, you aren't alone.
"I think we all went, 'OK, what is skeleton?'" says Prairie du Chien High School Principal, Andy Banasik.
It's a question Mary Antoine is used to hearing.
"You tell people he's doing skeleton, and you always get the blank look," she says.
But after more than a decade of watching her son pursue the sport, Mary's become something of an expert on the subject.
"You do the explanation and say, well, skeleton is a sliding sport, and you know what the bobsled run is - and of course everyone knows that - well then he's on a sled by himself, and he goes headfirst on his stomach."
Mary first watched the sport with her son during the 2002 Olympics - and just a few months later, Matt's interest, started to show. He took part in skeleton tryouts during a summer vacation to Lake Placid in upstate New York, and there began the start of 11 years of hard work for the Olympic athlete. He is now scheduled to compete in Sochi on Feb. 14.
Watching Matt grow up, Mary Antoine says she never thought she'd someday be the mother of an Olympic athlete. His friends are incredulous, as well.
"That's why it's hard to believe sometimes that he's going to the Olympics, because he's such a down to earth, sweet guy," says long-time friend Bridget Nichols.
For the small town of Prairie du Chien, it's still hard to believe that one of their own has made it so far in the world.
"It's like the kid that says, 'I'm going to be an NBA star...' Okay that's great, that's good to have a dream, but he's chased his dream down and reached it," said Matt's old math teacher, Dave Antoniewicz.
For a boy with a passion for pace, Matt has certainly found it in skeleton. It's a sport in which you can win by just a hundredth of a second. For Matt, that infinitely small amount of time is what years of determination will come down to in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
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