What a refreshing story the healthy attitude of Olympic speed skater Kristin Holum is.
One is inclined to admire one young American speed skater not only for her achievements in athletics but for her perspective about life after sports.
Kristin Holum, only 17, says, "Skating isn't my life." After the coming Winter Olympic Games in Japan, she plans to hang up her blades and concentrate on her education and art career.
Kristin is considered a medal contender in the long track distances at Nagano. Her mother, Dianne, was a star in American and Olympic speed skating 25 years ago. Holum would love to capture a gold medal as her mother did in 1972 at Sapporo, Japan. But win or not, that will be it, she says.
She has been accepted to the Tyler Art School in Philadelphia. The Rhode Island School of Design and several other schools are eager about what she does on canvas rather than on the ice. Kristin is considered a promising painter.
The mother and daughter seem to be of one mind. It is refreshing to find that the girl is not dealing with a "stage mother" who is intent on driving her to athletic success regardless of the child's desires.
Says the girl, from Waukesha, Wis.: "I don't like living out of a suitcase (as athletes so often must do). And I missed a lot of good stuff in high school. I'm really, really looking forward to going to college."
Responds Chris Witty, five years older than Kristin and another U.S. Olympic medal hopeful: "I think it's great. Because there is life after speed skating. There are a lot of skaters who get stuck in this trap that they have to be in it from now until they're 30."
Granted, Kristin could win a medal or two in Japan and get caught up in the commercial hullabaloos that make it difficult to forget athletics and go to school. But her percentages for the victories that could make that happen are slim.
How wonderful that she has an approach to life which seems to preclude the prospect of her winding up as a pathetic athletic bum, as has happened to many other young people without solid alternatives.
Right now, American colleges should be doing all they can to adopt Kristin Holum as their 1998 poster girl.