"Skeleton athlete" on track for Olympics, trains at Concordia

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- 15 to 30 meters of push before one mile of track. It's like the luge, but face first! That's the life of a skeleton athlete. One Wisconsin athlete is on track to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.

For 27-year-old Lauri Bausch, a stolen identity led to her current identity. The Wisconsinite was in Australia playing rugby when the theft forced her back home.

"It was easier to deal with moving back into the U.S. than calling my back 15 hours away with nothing left in my account," Bausch said.

Rugby in the rearview mirror, Bausch -- a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduate thought maybe she'd be a strength and conditioning coach. She began an internship at the Olympic Training Facility in Lake Placid where bobsledders and skeleton athletes practice.

"A lot of times they encourage you to (try it). You're working with the athletes. It's a unique sport, so to just kinda try it so you're familiar," Bausch said.

Kicked down the track is how Bausch describes her first run.

"Not only did I love it the first curve, but I just kinda had that natural form they were looking for," Bausch said.

It was a fateful trip, and ever since that day, Bausch has been training as a skeleton athlete. It's like the luge -- a solo rider on a sled flying 90 miles an hour down an icy track with banks and curves. However, skeleton is face-first, and athletes use their toes as brakes.

For training, Bausch spends her summers in Washington County -- lifting and training at Concordia University.

"A lot of times I'm up by 4:00 a.m. and two days a week I don't get home until 4:00 a.m.," Bausch said.

Bausch trains in the morning, works an 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job, trains again and then heads to a bartending job. She says it's exhausting and expensive.

"I can literally spend probably one-and-a-half to two times what I earn in a year in the sport," Bausch said.

However, Bausch says it's well worth it. Now a member of the U.S. Olympic team and a promising candidate for the 2014 Olympics, Bausch is on her way back to Lake Placid.