- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A short track speed skater from Springfield who raised nearly $50,000 online to cover training costs is one of just two Missourians competing at the Winter Olympics in Russia.

The Columbia Missourian (http://bit.ly/1b9aeHt ) reported Friday that Emily Scott, 24, is among three short track skaters on the U.S. women’s team in a sport compared to roller derby on ice. Competitors jockey for position in a tight oval. The U.S. failed to qualify in the team relay, which would have meant an additional two competitors.

More than 700 people contributed to Scott’s fund after learning about her financial struggles in 2013 when her national team stipend was slashed from $1,950 to $600 following a poor season. Raised by a single father after her mother went to jail for drug offenses, Scott worked part-time at a surgical supply factory and applied for food stamps. She is also receiving financial support from the Missouri Beef Industry Council.

The other Missourian in Sochi is men’s hockey player Paul Stastny of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He was born in Canada but grew up in St. Louis, where his father played for the Blues.

American speed skaters have won 85 Olympic medals, the most for the U.S. in any winter sport.

Scott, who trains in Utah and previously lived in Florida, was a champion inline skater before moving to ice five years ago. She started training as a 3-year-old at the now-closed Skateport in Springfield.

Her first race is scheduled for Tuesday. Her father Craig plans to attend.

Former inline coach Ted Hall, who owned Skateport, said he “knew she was going to be something bigger” even from a young age.

“I gave her some extra special attention and worked with her a little bit more,” he said. “She had the backing from her dad, and she had the desire to do it on her own.”

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Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com