Jan. 4, 2006
Former Gonzaga University women's rower Kristine Holzer will be chasing the Olympic Dream in mid-February as she was named to the U.S. Olympic Team that is headed to the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy. Holzer will compete in 3,000 meter speed skating competition as she was one of three Americans named to the team for that event. The women's 3,000 meter championships is one of the first medal events at the Olympics taking place on Sunday, Feb. 13, two days after the Opening Ceremonies.
Holzer earned a spot on the 2006 Olympic team based on her current World Cup standing and by finishing second at the U.S. Long Track Championships on Dec. 28. Holzer was second in the event to fellow Olympic teammate Catherine Raney who set a new American record at 4:01.98. Margaret Crowley will be third member of the Olympic team competing in the 3,000 meters. Holzer will also have a shot to compete in the 5,000 meters should she finish among the Top 16 in the 3,000 meter competition, those finishers advance to compete in the 5,000 meters held on Saturday, Feb. 25. The United States has not won a medal in distance speed skating since the 1980 Lake Placid Games in which Beth Heiden won a bronze in the 3,000 meters.
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Holzer was raised in Idaho graduating from Centennial High in Meridian in 1992. After one and half years at the University of Idaho, Holzer transferred to Gonzaga and joined the Bulldogs rowing team. She was named a team captain in 1997 and led the Bulldogs to their first West Coast Conference championship. She earned All-West Coast Conference and All-Pacific-10 Conference honors while being named the Gonzaga Female Student-Athlete of the Year. Holzer continued her rowing career after Gonzaga finishing second in the open women doubles at the 1998 U.S. Rowing National Championships and second in the open women's double and open women's quad at the 1998 U.S. Rowing National Team Trials.
Holzer picked up speed skating in 1998 and finished 11th overall at the U.S. Allrounds in 1999. She improved to sixth overall at the 2001 U.S. Allrounds and was second at the 2002 Olympic Trials in 2002 but was left off the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Team. In late 2002 Holzer captured her first American title winning the U.S. Long Track Championship in the 3000 and 5000 meter events. In 2003 Holzer moved onto the World Stage with an 18th place finish in the World Single Championship 3,000 meter race. She followed that up placing 23rd at the World Allround Championships.
The 31-year-old skater has overcome her share of hardships to reach the Olympic Stage. Growing up she suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which she sites as having a strong influence on her life and a driving force behind success on the water and the ice. "My experience with the disease taught me to appreciate my physical abilities and to be thankful for everything I can do," Holzer has been quoted as saying.