Local Olympian Matt Antoine cheered on by hometown
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
USA Olympic skeleton athlete Matt Antoine, courtesy @MattAntoine
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. (KWWL) -
One area athlete is poised to medal in the Winter Olympic sport of skeleton.
Twenty-eight-year-old Matt Antoine, of nearby Prairie du Chien, Wis., will battle it out for the bronze Saturday, after Friday's two runs put him in fourth place. He trails fellow American teammate John Daly, who's in third.
People in Prairie du Chien are bursting with pride over Antoine, their hometown Olympian.
Bridget Nichols manages Jim's Bar in Prairie du Chien, where people gathered Friday afternoon to keep their eyes on Sochi.
"It's unbelievable," Nichols said, wearing a button with Antoine's face and a t-shirt with his name on it. "I can't stop grinning, just ear-to-ear grin every time I saw him on there today."
Nichols is also Antoine's high school friend.
The Olympian graduated in 2003 from Prairie du Chien High School, but he wasn't always an athletic star. Andy Banasik is the principal there now, but he was assistant principal and athletic director when Antoine was in school.
"I can remember him telling some of us as coaches, you know, 'I have a dream of going to the Olympics in skeleton,'" Banasik recalled. "I'm sure we all said, 'Okay, now you may have to have another goal here,' because he worked hard but he wasn't a state participant in track or anything like that at that time, but now he's made it bigger than a state meet by going to the Olympics."
It's a dream Antoine documented in his senior yearbook.
"Matt put in here, 'Attend college and continue to train and compete in skeleton,'" Banasik said, pointing to the text next to Antoine's senior photo. "That was his aspiration as a senior, so that's great."
Now, this humble hometown hero has signs of support hanging all throughout the town, as he vies for bronze.
"I'm still going for gold!" Nichols said with a smile. "I think he's going to get gold, so, gotta keep rooting."
The Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce sold 1,700 buttons to support Antoine. The money raised will help defray some of the athlete's training costs.
Antoine will compete for the medal Saturday. People can watch that on KWWL, during NBC Olympic coverage Saturday afternoon.
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