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Chelios takes first bobsled run

10/19/2004 - Chris Chelios

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Chris Chelios grabbed his red helmet,
listened to some last-minute instructions, and then hit the ice --
running.
With the NHL lockout in full swing, Chelios traded his skates
Wednesday night for a pair of black booties and took three
teeth-chattering runs in a two-man bobsled down the track at Mount
Van Hoevenberg.
"That might hurt worse than hockey. Geez!" the 42-year-old
defenseman said after his first run, sweat beading off his head,
and his heart pounding as he stood at the finish line. "What a
rush. We had some good speed. It's the fastest thing I've ever
done. You don't have any control the way you're moving, I'll tell
you that. I'm nervous now."
He needn't have been too much on edge because he wasn't driving.
U.S. women's bobsled star Jean Racine and men's driver John Napier
were at the controls.
"At first, I thought, 'Should I hit a wall?' " Racine said,
smiling after going 80 mph down the course. "I figured he's a
tough hockey player. He's used to taking a hit into the boards. But
I thought for the first time I'd try to make it nice and smooth and
fun. Maybe next run. We don't get too many hockey players out here,
but he was pretty confident. If he was nervous, he really didn't
show it."
If the lockout continues, Chelios, whose parents are Greek, is
toying with the idea of trying out for the Greek Olympic bobsled
team for the 2006 Winter Games at Turin, Italy.
"If the timing's right and the season's not looking like it's
going to go, then I'll have the opportunity to compete and try to
qualify for the Olympics. We'll see," said Chelios, who plans to
train in Calgary, Alberta, and then return here in two weeks for
more. "I don't kid myself if I'm not good at it. But it's not
going to be tough to make the Greek team. Basically, if our hearts
are in it, we're on the team just because of the lack of
participation."
Clearly, though, he wants to play hockey, even at his age, and
remains distressed over the lockout. The regular season was
scheduled to begin Wednesday night.
"I've approached the last two weeks like it was time for
training camp," said Chelios, who is a free agent after playing
out his contract with the Detroit Red Wings. "I've been working
out and skating, but it's going to get old quick just practicing.
We've only got six or seven guys a side in pickup hockey. I intend
to play somewhere. It looks like it's going to go long.
"The only thing that's frustrating is for the fans," Chelios
said. "They're the ones who are suffering, and the people who
pretty much depend on the revenues from hockey to survive, whether
it's restaurants, hotels, bar owners. They're going to suffer.
That's the unfortunate thing. The players, the owners, they're
going to be fine when this is all said and done. Hopefully, there
won't be too much damage done to the game."
Chelios, who has four children, said if he plays any hockey he
would stay close to home -- most likely with the nearby American
Hockey League team.
"Realistically, I want to stay with the Chicago Wolves," he
said. "It's so close to home. I could commute with my kids. If it
gets too tough with the commuting, it won't be worth it to be away
from the family. We'll see how it goes."
If Chelios is serious about his bobsled aspirations, one
experienced onlooker said he had what it takes.
"There are two things you look for," said John Morgan, a
former U.S. bobsledder who has covered the last six Winter Olympics
as an analyst. "You look in their eyes and the back of their
pants."