The "Going for the Gold" series kicked off our One-Year-Countdown to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. We will feature a different 2010 U.S. Olympic or Paralympic hopeful each week with a vodcast on the first and second Friday of every month.
If Catherine Raney qualifies for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the speedskater would be attending her fourth Winter Games. She is a three-time Olympian but has some unfinished business: She has never won an Olympic or world championship medal.
At the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, the then 17-year-old competed in the 3,000-meter event and finished 22nd. Four years later, in Salt Lake City, Raney placed ninth in the 5,000 and 13th in the 3,000. Then at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, she recorded her highest-ever finish, fifth, in the team pursuit; a seventh-place finish in the 5,000; an 11th-place finish in the 3,000; and an 18th-place finish in the 1,500.
Raney grew up in Elm Grove, Wis. When she was in first grade, a teacher told her she had a reading disability. Instead of using that as an excuse for bad grades, Raney was motivated to study more and earned straight A's.
The athlete spent most of her free time on the ice. However, it was figure skating Raney was pursuing, not speedskating. But when she was 13, she injured her knee and had to stop jumping. It was then that a former member of the speedskating national team challenged Raney to a race. She ended up loving her newfound sport and never looked back.
When she was 16, Raney became the U.S. Junior speedskating champion. The following year, she finished second overall at the World Junior Speedskating Championships. She is a three-time national Allround champion (1999, 2002, 2003) and currently holds the U.S. records for the women in the 3,000 and 5,000 events.
The 5-6 speedskater married Marc Norman on Sept. 4, 2008, at a small family ceremony in Moab, Utah. They celebrated their union at a reception two days later at the couple's house on Mount Aire, which is approximately nine miles east of Salt Lake City. The following week, they had another reception in Raney's hometown of Elm Grove.
Raney, who spent more than seven years living and training in Canada and now trains in Utah, is preparing to compete on Canadian soil at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Raney's hoping for a medal, and her best chance for that appears to be in the team pursuit despite typically being the best American woman in the 3,000 and 5,000.
Vancouver could be the last Olympic appearance for Raney, now 29, and a long-skated-after medal there would reward the dedicated speedskater for all of the hard work and effort she's put into the sport for the past 16 years.