Kansas City native hopeful to make U.S. Olympic skating team

SHAWNEE, Kan. — When it comes to winter sports, there’s nothing bigger than the Olympic Games.

In less than two months, the world’s best will gather in Sochi, Russia, including an ice skater who could be the best in Kansas City area history.

When a world-class athlete prepares to excel, it becomes the talk of the town. Retired Kansas City police officer Mike Coughlin is accustomed to watching his skating son impress others.

Now, Center High School Alum John Coughlin is on the verge of gliding into his biggest accomplishment yet — making the US Olympic Pairs Skating Team. “Big John” has already been a two-time national champion in the sport, and dad was there when it all began with early morning workouts every day at 4 a.m..

“My son was in charge of the alarm clock,” Coughlin said. “He’d set it. He’d also set the coffee maker to help his mother get up and get going.”

Coughlin says John’s mother, Stacy, remains John’s inspiration. Mike Coughlin says she died from a rare heart condition during the 2010 Olympic Games, and her spirit still pushes John.

“It lit a fire in John,” Mike Coughlin said. “He wanted to make sure he skated the best for his mom.”

Mike says competing on the ice is a joy for John. His partner Katie Denney has skated in the Winter Games, but this could be a first for Coughlin.

“They always have fun when they’re skating,” Coughlin said. “The pressure is on to a certain extent, but I know they’ll enjoy the moment.”

Kathleen Ogren from the Kansas City Ice Skating Club knows what it takes for a skater to shine.

“It becomes your life,” Ogren said. “The amount of training you have to put into it. Your life will revolve around it.”

Even from a young age, John’s focus has been fixated on making the US Olympic Team. Mike Coughlin says he’s most proud that throughout John’s many accomplishments, he’s always been a proud Ambassador for Kansas City.

“It’s nice to see that he’s done so well,” Mike Coughlin said. “He’s really worked hard. He’s always been driven in the sport.”

Now, that energy might send him into the brightest spotlight in the sport.

The 2014 Olympics begin on February 7 in Sochi, Russia. A representative from US Figure Skating tells FOX 4 News team roster spots will be announced on January 12th, and Coughlin is likely to make the team.

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