Olympians from around the world are arriving in Sochi ahead of the games. But some local athletes are wondering if the people who supported them the most - their families - will be cheering them on in-person as the financial burden could be too large of a hurdle to overcome.
“It is a little bit overwhelming just for my family,” said Chris Creveling, a short track speedskater competing in his first Olympic games. “For me, it is not a distraction.”
Creveling, who is from Kintersville, Bucks County, was named to the Olympic team on Jan. 5, giving his family just a few short weeks to make travel arrangements.
Family and friends in Frenchtown, N.J. sprung into action. A fundraiser was held at the Frenchtown Roller Rink, which Creveling’s aunt owns, located at 2998 Highway 29, Frenchtown.
“Of course one of the easiest things for me to help with is to provide the rink,” his aunt, Kay Pinkerton, said. “It was friends that really stepped up to the plate and helped out.”
Pinkerton says one friend prepared chicken pot pies to sell for $10 each. Plus TeamCrev t-shirts and magnets were available for purchase.
“I think it is a challenge for everybody,” said Kyle Tress, who grew up in Lambertville, N.J. and will represent the U.S. in skeleton.
Tress credits his family and friends, especially his mother, for helping him reach the games.
“Friends and family donated money so I could buy my first sled and my first couple of runners,” he said.
The sled alone can cost as much as $5,000, he said.
Like Creveling, speedskater and Lehigh Valley native Kyle Carr used more traditional fundraising methods like selling t-shirts.
“I’m so pumped from all the support I got from the community,” Carr said.
But the travel costs, even more costly due to the limited lead time before the Olympics and inflated pricing during the Games, led both local athletes to turn to the 21st century financing model – crowdfunding.
The funds raised will help their immediate family watch as they go for the gold in Sochi.
“My friends and family have been huge for me,” Crevling said. “they are the reason why TeamCrev started. I’m not just representing myself and my country, I’m going there to represent TeamCrev.”
Carr says he also owes a lot to his hometown. “The community is a huge reason why I can afford to skate,” he said.