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Prairie du Chien native is first-time Skeleton Olympian

Posted Friday, February 14, 2014 --- 6:00 p.m.

"Hi Matt. Loved your pictures of San Moritz that you posted on Facebook."

Mary Antoine read an email she's writing to her son out loud. She's writing from the comfort of her historic home in Prairie Du Chien.

"This is the way we really do keep in touch," Antoine said about the emails to her son.

Her son, first-time Olympian Matt Antoine, is a skeleton racer, and she's writing him while he's halfway across the world, prepping for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"I don't text," she laughed.

Matt has dedicated his life to the sport over a decade.

"He's almost constantly away; He lives out of a suitcase," Mary said.

Mary says it can be difficult.

"He has not had a Thanksgiving at home since he was a junior in high school."

But the word Mary would use to describe her son is "dedicated."

"The dedication and the focus even that he had as a little kid has helped him to get where he is now," Mary said.

Matt was a senior in high school when he knew, skeleton was his sport.

"I first saw skeleton in 2002 when it made its return to the Olympics, and I'd always been into racing and winter sports and the U.S. had such success in those games winning the gold in both men's and women's, and so it was a big story in the Olympics and it really caught my attention," Matt Antoine said.

"I said well where do you want to go on vacation? Matt looks at me and said, 'Lake Placid,' and I said, 'why do you want to go there?'" Mary recalled of the first time Matt showed his interest in Skeleton.

It turns out, physical tryouts for the U.S. Skeleton developmental camps took place in the New York town. Mary said he was so inspired by the press coverage at the 2002 Olympics, he did the research to try it out himself.

After getting cut from his first tryout, living off cans of beans and having knee surgery Matt proved that his hard work paid off this December.
He won gold at the World Cup races in Lake Placid. The place ranked him among the best racers in the world, and put him on the path for Sochi.

"When he did it, and he finished so far ahead of the other athletes I was... there were a few tears shed I must admit, and he was excited. It was the most excited I had ever seen him at a race," Mary said about Matt's World Cup victory.

Matt's goal is to win gold in Sochi. Mary will be at the games to cheer him on, and he'll be proud no matter what.

"I want him to feel that when he competes he's done his best that he could, and he's focused -- I'll tell you that -- and his focus is on Sochi," Mary said.

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