Canadian bobsledder Lyndon Rush of Sylvan Lake will have his children from the left

Olympians’ families glued to the TV in anticipation

If time permitted, Cassidy Hollingsworth would be on her way to Russia right now.

If time permitted, Cassidy Hollingsworth would be on her way to Russia right now.

As it is, the 17 year-old Leslieville resident has school and basketball commitments that keep her from crossing the ocean and cheering on big sister Mellisa Hollingsworth at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

Mom and Dad, Darcy and Tammy, began the journey to Russia on Monday for Mellisa’s third and final Olympic Games, Hollingsworth said.

Mellisa, 33 and originally from Eckville, will be competing in women’s skeleton on Thursday.

She finished third in women’s skeleton at the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy, and came in fifth in Vancouver in 2010.

“I’ll be at my brother Jordan’s place to watch the race,” Hollingsworth said on Monday afternoon. “We’ve been emailing and texting every day. She said it’s actually pretty warm there right now. She’s been doing well, went out training earlier today.”

Hollingsworth said family members watching the races from the home front will be decked out in Canada’s colours, including some Olympic gear Mellisa gave them.

‘We’re all really confident she’ll do well but it is nerve-wracking. We’ll be excited and happy no matter what happens and just want her to know we’re wishing her the best of luck.”

Krysta Rush, the wife of Canadian bobsledder Lyndon Rush, is at home in Sylvan Lake, glued to the TV.

“We’re praying for him,” said Rush, the mother of three young girls with another one on the way. “Olivia, our oldest, is just starting to realize her dad is somewhat famous so that has been fun . . . . We do a lot of video chatting, texting.”

Lyndon Rush’s father, Jerry, drove his son to the airport over a month ago for the World Cup series and is “basically hooked” to the Games.

He didn’t head to Sochi because of the costs involved but said he’s eager to see how the team does, especially after the purchase of new runners for their sled last month.

His “pushes are stellar, his driving looked perfect,” but the equipment was lacking, Jerry said.

“There was a German guy who was bumped from the German Olympic team and he offered to sell Lyndon his runners but the Russians were bidding on them so the German, who likes Lyndon a lot because he’s one of those guys that gets along with everybody, said to him that if he could raise the money in two days, they were his.”

The team cracked open their own penny banks and still came up $10,000 short.

Jerry said he took to his phone and within 20 minutes had found two sponsors to cover the costs: Doug Quinn of Red Deer, the former owner of Quinn Pumps, and Airdrie Dodge.

The new runners have already made a difference in Lyndon’s times.

“They’re his secret weapon,” said Jerry.

As for the scene in Sochi, Jerry said he hadn’t heard too much from his 33-year-old son.

“Someone did ask him if he was nervous about terrorism threats and he said, ‘There’s a lot of sharks in the ocean. Some people don’t swim in the ocean because of it. I swim in the ocean and I’ve never seen a shark.’ ”

Sylvia Kocher of Red Deer said all she’s been doing since the opening ceremonies on Friday is watching the Olympics.

Kocher, grandmother of Red Deer biathlon Olympian Zina Kocher, was especially tied to her seat on Sunday for the women’s 7.5-km sprint biathlon event. Zina placed 32nd.

“She’s a great skier, a top skier really, but she does have some trouble shooting,” said Kocher.

Kocher said she was too elderly to travel to Sochi and Zina’s parents are in Vancouver with her brother, who is in the hospital, but that the family are Zina’s No. 1 fans.

“We’re so proud and we just love her so much,” she said.

The fourth and final athlete from the Central Alberta region, speedskater Danielle Wotherspoon-Gregg, took to the track this morning for the women’s 500-metre event. Wotherspoon-Gregg is the sister of speed skater Jeremy Wotherspoon, who holds the world record in the men’s 500 metres, set in 2007 in Salt Lake City. Her husband, Jamie Gregg of Edmonton, is also competing in Russia in speedskating.

Jane Wotherspoon of Red Deer, an aunt, has been on Facebook following her niece’s posts and plans to be close to her TV as Wotherspoon-Gregg hits the oval.

“It’s been her dream to get there and I’m happy and excited for her that she’s finally made the Olympic Games. It’s been a long time coming,” Wotherspoon said.

The athlete’s parents, Bill and Sharon, as well as little sister Meagan flew to Sochi to show their support from the stands.

“It was last minute for them, getting visas and everything, because qualifying didn’t happen until so late in December so that was a bit stressful,” Wotherspoon said. “But they made it. They left last Wednesday and they’re headed to Germany for a well-deserved holiday after the Games.”

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

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