When Holly Cook came home from the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in February with a disappointing sixth-place finish, she sat herself down for a serious discussion. "I talked to myself and got my priorities straightened out," says Cook, of Bountiful, the 1990 world bronze medalist.
Gone were the thoughts she'd had previously about quitting.Cook went right back to work, moving back to Colorado Springs to train extra-seriously for the next year at The Broadmoor toward the 1992 Winter Olympics. She promises "a new Holly."
Meanwhile, Bingham High junior and reigning U.S. women's champion archer Denise Parker, ranked second in the world in outdoor archery, was preparing for the 1991 campaign that's just now beginning. Parker heads to the Arizona Cup this weekend and looks forward to a summer in which she'll have only three weekends off from competition as she hopes to work her way to the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Wednesday, both Cook and Parker, who've already brought notoriety to Utah in their highly individual pursuits, got some help from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Utah, which announced a matching-funds plan that could add some $30,000 to their trust funds toward travel and training expenses.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Utah will contribute up to $15,000 to the two Utah athletes, matching dollar for dollar up to that limit any other contributions made to them between now and Aug. 9, 1992.
As incentive for public participation, BC/BS of Utah is offering a variety of premiums such as Olympic T-shirts and stadium blankets. Donations will be handled through, and checks should be made out to, Athletes Unlimited, a Utah organization that helps the state's amateur athletes. The money will go to Cook's and Parker's individual trust funds that are handled by their sports' national governing bodies and will not jeopardize their amateur status.
"It's a boost that there are people out there that really care," said Cook, who feels forced to move to Colorado Springs to train so she can get enough private ice time uncluttered by younger, less skilled skaters.
Cook wavered in her training last year after finishing third in both nationals and worlds in 1990 because of problems getting ice time in Utah. She went briefly to Denver, decided to quit a couple of times and then went to Colorado Springs in the weeks before the 1991 nationals in Minneapolis. It wasn't enough to get her sharp for the '91 nationals, but it was enough to whet her interest again. "I loved it; it was a fun time. I have nothing to lose," Cook decided in her one-woman conversation.
It's estimated Cook will need about $40,000 in training expenses to get to the '92 Olympics, and she'll probably receive more from the Blue Cross/Blue Shield fund than Parker.
Parker, who trains at home and has an instructor fly in about once a month, will probably need $20,000-$25,000 in training expenses to make it to Albertville, France, in '92.
"The Olympic year is not as expensive as this year," says Parker, explaining that of all her competitions this year, probably only three will be expense-paid deals courtesy of a national team. The rest will be at personal expense for travel, entry fees, hotels, chaperone costs, etc. "If you make a team, they'll pay, but anything you do to make these kinds of teams, you have to pay for," said Parker.
Parker, the world bronze medalist in 1989, a world record-holder, three-year member of the U.S. national team and now up to the world's No. 2 ranking, has her sights aimed at moving up to No. 1 in the world, a rating now held by a Korean who's both the current world and Olympic champion. "I think I can," said Parker.
With Utah bidding for a future Winter Olympics, Kevin Bischoff, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Utah's assistant vice president for public relations and advertising, says, "I just think it's a great thing for the community to have someone (Cook, Parker) to watch." Other corporate reasons for starting this fund is that Blue Cross/Blue Shield nationally is the health insurer for all U.S. Olympians and the corporation likes to promote fitness.