While many of his Oak Park (Ill.) River Forest High classmates may have been content sitting at home playing video games over the winter break, 17-year-old Emery Lehman qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The OPRF senior finished second behind 2010 Vancouver Olympics silver medalist Jonathan Kuck in the 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials on Friday, qualifying for a spot on Team USA that will be officially announced on New Year's Day.
"Top three is all I wanted," Lehman, representing his hometown with a Chicago Bears scarf on the medals podium, told the Associated Press at the trials in Kearns, Utah. "I still can't believe it. It probably won't hit me for a few days."
Lehman, who swept the 1,500, 3,000 and 5.000 meters at the 2011-12 U.S. Junior Championships, covered Friday's 5K in 6:25.72, six seconds behind Kuck (6:19.75), but good enough for a trip to Russia in February. The teen owns the U.S. junior record in the 5,000, and his fastest time (6:20.57) is just 0.8 seconds shy of the junior world record.
Even more impressive is Lehman's ability to balance his Olympic training at Franklin Park Speedskating Club with a prep athletic resume that rivals any normal student-athlete. He's captained Oak Park River Forest's lacrosse team since his freshman year and played all-conference defense for the hockey team since his sophomore season.
Just imagine trying to keep up with one of the fastest skaters in the world after a turnover in the defensive zone. According to ESPN, Lehman will forego his senior season of hockey to concentrate on the Olympics, but plans to play lacrosse this spring.
So, yeah, Lehman probably doesn't have much time for video games, but maybe some day he'll star in a speedskating one.
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