Czisny has hopes for Olympics

It’s a big weekend for BGSU athletes across the board.

The men’s basketball team plays Toledo on Sunday, while the women will travel to Kent for a rematch of last year’s Mid-American Conference Championship. Both the track and gymnastics teams begin their seasons tomorrow, while the hockey team will try to keep rolling with its recent success.

And sophomore Alissa Czisny is competing at the U.S Figure Skating Championships for the chance to go the Olympics.

Yes, the Olympics. Five rings, gold medals and all.

Yesterday in St. Louis 18-year-old Czisny competed in the short program, and tomorrow she will perform her long program which airs on ABC at 8 p.m. The winner gets an automatic bid to Turin, Italy, while the other two spots on the Olympic team will be determined by the the U.S. Figure Skating International Committee.

“That’s my goal,” Czisny said of making the Olympic team. “Obviously it’s going to be hard to get there because there’s a lot of good U.S. skaters at nationals. It’s that third spot that everybody’s fighting for.”

But now that Michelle Kwan pulled out of the Nationals due to a pulled groin muscle, Czisny’s chances of making the team may be up. It all depends on how generous the selection committee is toward Kwan, the most accomplished figure skater in U.S. history.

Until now the highest Czisny has placed at Nationals was seventh, but after a break-out year the expectations are sky-high for the Bowling Green native. She has been declared a favorite, along with Sasha Cohen and Emily Hughes, to make the Olympic team.

While Czisny has won some big international competitions, like Skate Canada, she had more trouble at the recent Grand Prix finals where she placed sixth out of six.

But she did have an excuse, and a good one at that. The blade on her left skate wasn’t aligned correctly, causing disastrous landings on her jumps.

Armed with a new skate and high hopes, Czisny will skate her free program Saturday. If she wins she can pack her bags for Turin. The International Studies major might even be able to get away with calling her travels a field trip.

If not, she can cross her fingers and hope the selection committee is on her side. Either way, this Falcon has made it big time.