Speed skater has breathless finish

Asthma attack doesn’t keep Team Nunavut teen from completing race

Posted: Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Determination pulled a speed skater to the finish line despite an asthma attack that caused her to collapse twice before finishing the race Tuesday.

There were no obvious signs the skater had been injured and spectators were at a loss as to why she had collapsed.

“She would just collapse and then slide into the wall,” said Jessie Oliver, an Alaska Medical Support Team medic.

Fourteen-year-old Rebecca Rowan-Tsannie of Team Nunavut from Cambridge Bay, Canada, picked herself up from the ice and held her chest until she reached the finish line and collapsed a third and final time before she was escorted from the ice.

“When you’re going at 110 percent, that’s what happens,” said Doug McLarty, mission staff for Team Nunavut.

Team Nunavut also lost a second and third skater when one fell ill and a third was cut in the forehead by another skater’s skate.

On the bright side, Team Nunavut received a bronze medal from a skater who the team’s coach did not expect to receive a medal.

“So we’ve had some good luck and some bad luck,” said John Maurice, the team’s coach.

Rowan-Tsannie was taken to the hospital for treatment and is expected to recover.

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