Athlete takes it in stride |

Athlete takes it in stride

Casper's CornerJeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Exhibiting grace in victory is one thing. Doing so in the face of defeat is entirely another.Carrie Messner-Vickers somehow managed the latter last week, staying positive in the wake of something that must have been deeply disappointing. The Carbondale resident, vying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic track and field team in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, fell shy of her Olympic dream at the trials in Eugene, Ore.Regardless, she made herself available to the media the very next day, quickly returning a voicemail – on the Fourth of July, no less. Laughing and jovial, she seemed content that she gave it her all.Many an athlete wouldn’t be as accessible to local media so quickly, let alone pleasant and talkative. Heck, I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone. I’d probably shut my cell phone off for a few days and retreat into seclusion.That made Messner-Vickers’ positive attitude all the more refreshing. She effusively praised the competitors who did make the U.S. steeple team and sang the praises of the growing quality of steeplers nationwide. She took solace in leaving all she had on the track and reflected on what was an amazing experience.”It was a great learning experience,” she said. “I’m proud of myself for going out there and doing what I did. I don’t think another country has 14 girls in the final like we did, all running 10 minutes and under. It was a cool thing to see.”Messner-Vickers left Eugene with no lingering what-ifs – no stumble out of the blocks or tumble clearing a barrier leaving her to wonder what could have been.No, she simply gave it the best she had – even if that meant blacking out during the final stretch.”I honestly do not remember that last hurdle,” she said. “I couldn’t tell you how I got over it, or the last water barrier. My brain was lacking oxygen. It was an interesting feeling.”I can’t even imagine pushing myself that hard. Endurance athletes are surely a special breed.Thank you, Carrie, for being a class act. And for giving us Roaring Fork Valleyers someone to root for at a big-time, national event.Contact Jeff Caspersen:

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