Skeleton's John Daly hoping to continue Jimmy Shea's Olympic legacy...
For Daly, Shea winning the gold medal wasn’t just an inspiring story -- he was also Daly’s mentor.
A couple of years earlier, the 14-year-old Daly, who was both shorter and younger than many of the other junior sliders, found himself needing encouragement after a tough day on the ice. And Shea, who would retire after the Salt Lake City Games, was eager to help.
"I was upset with myself and Jimmy was the only guy that came up to me and [cheered me up]," Daly recalled.
“I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for John’s dad,” Shea explained. “He’s an EMT and he volunteers in Lake Placid on a regular basis, and that's five hours away from his home in Long Island. When you see these people set such great examples for their kids, you just want to nurture it.”
Almost 12 years have passed since Shea's gold medal run, yet the U.S. men’s skeleton team has not won a medal since.
But with one trip to the Olympics under his belt -– he finished 17th in 2010 -– Daly, who still speaks with Shea, now thinks he can be the one to break that streak in Sochi. It helps that he feels that the Sochi track -– one notable for a number of uphill portions –- fits his style perfectly.
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Last season, in the first-ever race on the Sochi track, Daly finished in fourth at the World Cup event. It was exactly where he doesn’t want to finish this year, but still gave him confidence as the 2014 Games approach.
“Everyone has a track that they click with and Sochi just fits with me,” Daly said. “On this track there is no hard steering and you let the sled sort of just ride. I think I’m better at getting on the sled and just totally relaxing and sometimes those more tense drivers are better at the hard-to-steer tracks.”
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