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Worthington native becomes Olympic windsurfing hopeful

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Worthington native becomes Olympic windsurfing hopeful
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- In the summer of 2004, when Lisa Kremer was preparing to compete with the U.S. Junior Olympic Windsurfing Team at the world championships in Belgium, her team coach, Charles Ivey, foresaw the local windsurfer someday competing in the Olympic Games.

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"I see the potential to do whatever she decides she wants to do," he stated in a Daily Globe article printed June 7, 2004. "If she can maintain her focus and her drive, I don't think (the Olympics) are out of the realm of possibility."

Almost two years later, Lisa is one step closer to that Olympic possibility. After participating last week in the Miami Rolex Olympic Classes Regatta, an Olympic preparation event in Miami, Fla., Lisa was given one of five spots in the RS:X women's class on the U.S. Sailing Team. U.S. Sailing's Web site explains that "qualifying for the USST indicates that the athlete or team may be a serious contender to represent the United States at the next Olympic Games," which would be in 2008 in Beijing, China.

"If I'm on the U.S. Sailing Team, they only actually send one person to the Olympics," explained Lisa on Friday via telephone from Miami as she awaited the formal announcement of her selection. "All of us girls who will probably be on the team are pretty close, so I'd be training with them this summer."

Although Lisa didn't come out at the top of the field in the Miami competition, her determination was so apparent that one of the other competitors, Beth Winkler, relinquished her spot on the U.S. team, retiring to make way for Kremer.

Kremer, the daughter of Glenn and Barb Kremer of Worthington, started windsurfing at age 14, and she will celebrate her 18th birthday in March. Her potential as a windsurfer really came to light during Worthington's annual Windsurfing Regatta.

The U.S. Sailing Team encompasses various competitive classes, ranging from crew members on larger sailing vessels down to the new Neil Pryde RS:X class in which Lisa competes. Competitors in this class all use the same size board and sail. It's a new type of competition for Lisa, and she's still getting accustomed to the equipment.

"It's a matter of who's been on the board longer, and I haven't been on it very long," she said about the Miami competition. "There were some pretty windy days, which was a little more difficult. I did better in the low winds. I've only been on the board since Thanksgiving, and when I sailed in Florida with it before, it was light winds, so that was what I was used to. There was only one day this time with light winds ... and I'm a lot smaller than a lot of the girls. It's just a matter of practicing."

The Miami OCR featured not only the top windsurfers from the U.S., but also from around the world, with more than 40 countries represented, according to Barb Kremer, who accompanied her daughter to Miami.

"After the first person finishes, you only have 10 minutes to finish the course," explained Lisa about the racing events. "There are a few girls from Great Britain who are really good racers. ... On the first day, everybody was so mad, because only four women were able to finish, so they changed it to 20 minutes. It's still been hard, but I've been able to finish a few races."

Competing on the ocean is a bit different than what Lisa is used to on the waters of Worthington's Lake Okabena, and it was an extremely challenging course, the same as used by the men, Barb explained. Some of the competitors' coaches sailed beside the athletes in boats. Lisa didn't have the advantage of such advice and encouragement; she was all alone out in the ocean and was determined to cross the finish line in the allotted time.

"She made the last race by only 13 seconds," Barb said. "There were a lot of girls who didn't finish. ... She had quite the week."

With this Olympic-caliber event behind her, Lisa is prepared to do some serious training, looking eventually toward the Olympic trials in Long Beach, Calif. She has become well acquainted with some of the other female windsurfers and has been invited to train this summer in Hood River, Ore., and with some of the international competitors in Turkey, although she and her parents will have to decide whether she will utilize those opportunities.

"The trials won't be until the fall of 2007," Lisa said. "I'll probably go to the trials and see how I do. I'll be in college as well then, so I'm not sure how that's going to work. But by that time I'll have had almost two years to train on the board."

On the Net:

www.ussailing.org

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Beth Rickers
Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  
(507) 376-7327
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