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U.S. Olympic Festival in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Opening date: 2 July 1990
Closing date: 10 July 1990
Nations: 1
Athletes: 4000
Sports: 37


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Bobby Skedsmo of Union City, California as the cycling team coach,
Jon Schmitz, 20, of Santa Rosa, California,
Louis Pedroza, 23, of Anaheim, California,
Alex Ash, 25, of Fremont, California,
Paul Wood, 22, of San Ramon, California,
Shannon Lally, 24, of Baltimore, Maryland and
Noah Kessler, 20, of Berkeley, California

There were six deaf riders participating in this year's, U.S. Olympic Festival in Minnesota on July 2 thru 10th, 1990. They were as follows:

Two veterans JON SCHMITZ and PAUL WOOD and four newcomers ALEX ASH, NOAH KESSLER, SHANNON LALLY, and LOUIS PEDROZA.  They all made their first trip to the festival.  They only found that they were not to compete with the hearing riders.  Instead, they competed against each other for the 1-2-3 place medals.

The weather was in the upper 90's for the first several days and then cooled off to boost the needs of the riders.  The riders stayed at the Wallace Hall of McAlaster College in St. Paul only a few miles fron, Mississippi River where the cycling avenue was adjacent to.  That college also housed the disabled (such as blind, developmentally disabled, cerebral palsied, and "little people") athletes.  They were wonderful people.  U.S. Olympic Festival provided meals, local transportation, clothing, hospitality, and interpreting service well, not any different from the World Games for the Deaf.  It gave the athletes a preview of the Olympic Village life (what was like eating, sleeping, training, etc.  in a village ambiance).

The Opening Ceremony was staged in the evening of July 6th in the Metrodome. 45,000 spectators were there!  ESPN gave some coverages of the deaf riders.  Seeing themselves in the magnificent TV Screen, they signed, "hi Mom". And some expressed in excitement their comments about the deaf cycling.

Long at last, here now is about the cycling races. In one of the most competitive fields ever in the U.S Olympic Festival Cycling, 96 of the top Junior men and women riders plus six deaf riders gathered early on July 6th.  In the 70-kilometer team time trial, the deaf riders shared the course with 21 four-individual hearing teams.  They blasted off from the timing line in one-minute intervals racing against the clock.  JON SCHMITZ, PAUL WOOD and LOUIS PEDROZA were together as a team.  The other deaf team was of ALEX ASH, NOAH KESSLER and SHANNON LALLY.  Both teams were riding with the hearing teams. The SCHMITZ-WOODPEDROZA team was not "smooth sailing".  They split after PEDROZA lagged early in the race.  SCHMITZ finished the race by himself solely with a 1:53.20 time.  But the offical time was 1:56.35 when PAUL WOOD crossed the finish line. ASHKESSLER-LALLY team worked well throughout the race and rolled in with a 1:56.57 time (only 22 second's behind the SCHMITZ-WOOD-PEDROZA team).

70 KM Team Time Trial Result
1. Jon Schmitz - Paul Wood - Louis Pedroza 1:56:57.0
2. Alex Ash - Noah Kessler - Shannon Lally 1:56:57.0

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Jon Schmitz - Paul Wood - Alex Ash

Of the 18-kilometer road race (six laps), all deaf riders were riding together closely for the first two laps.  WOOD and SCHMITZ worked strategically against the other riders with several breakaway attempts that tired them a little.  WOOD and SCHMITZ made a right move at the right time to bury the rest of the field when two laps were left to go.  ASH-KESSLER-LALLY teamed up to bridge the gap but came in vain.  WOOD and SCHMITZ were up to something when they talked during the race just before the finish line.  It was found that they agreed to race through the finish line together as a two-in-one victory.  The offical thought that they might be disqualified. But at least, they both held a one-hand on the handlebars.  Coach Skedsmo was asked to comment on that unusual incident.  He was disappointed because he otherwise would have liked to see how they challenged each other to the finish line, as what a good competition sport should be!  He suggested a coin toss for tie-breaking.  The spectators thought that it was a wonderful, (friendly sportsmanship)!  At the conclusion, the official used the finish-photo to determine the winner.  A gold medal was awarded to PAUL WOOD at the victory podium!  Of the field behind, ALEX ASH built a good 30- to 50-meter lead and before anyone else could react when they were sprinting up the hill to the finish line. The bronze medal went to him.  KESSLER came in as the fourth place.  LALLY, the fifth place.  PEDROZA was behind with a mechanic problem.

18 KM Road Race Result
1. Paul Wood
2. Jon Schmitz
3. Alex Ash
4. Noah Kessler
5. Shannon Lally
6. Louis Pedroza


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