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Zach Lund
Sport: Skeleton
Birthdate: March 22, 1979
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, UT
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Residence: Salt Lake City, UT
Ht: / Wt: 6'0" / 185 lbs
Event: Men's

Dream deferred
After missing out on the last two Olympic Winter Games, Lund finally is set to make his debut in Vancouver. "It's almost overwhelming," Lund says of the wait. "I feel like, how many times have I had to overcome stuff that's not within my control? It's been a very hard road, to say the least. My Olympic dream has been very hard, and I feel like I've been to two Olympics already. But sometimes life takes you on an interesting road, and I try to take it as positively as I can and just keep having fun."

Banned
On the Friday of the Opening Ceremony in Torino, Lund learned that he would not be allowed to compete in the Games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) handed him a one-year suspension after a positive test for finasteride, which can act as a steroid-masking agent. "The anti-doping system really let me down as an athlete," Lund said after learning of the decision. The previous day he had participated in an arbitration hearing in Torino and argued that he didn't know the drug, which was found in a hair replacement product he had been taking regularly, had been added to the list of banned substances in January 2005. The Thursday hearing was called by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which appealed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) earlier decision to give Lund a public warning rather than a suspension. "I feel in my heart I'm an Olympian," Lund says now. "I was there. I know what I accomplished. I know I was honest."

Redemption
Lund's one-year suspension dated back to his positive test in Calgary in November 2005, which meant he was eligible to return for most of the 2006-07 World Cup season. He stormed back to win the overall World Cup title, along the way breaking the track record on the 2006 Olympic track at Cesana Pariol. "I came back with a vengeance," Lund says now of that post-Olympic season.

Lund competes at the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid, New York.
Lund competes at the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid, New York.

Aggressive approach
Of the Olympic track at Whistler Lund says: "It's not as fast as everyone says; it's faster." But he's not intimidated: "I take pride in taking the line that no one else dares to take," he says. "I like to do what people even in my own sport think is crazy. I like to not take the safe line ... That's what I always liked about someone like, I hate to say it, Bode Miller, but his skiing - he was always on the verge of being out of control because he was pushing it ... I don't want to just survive and get down. I want to win. I want to go fast. You can't be scared. I think that's one of the biggest advantages I have. I'm not scared of the sport. I'm not scared of getting hurt."

Salt Lake spectator
Lund fell short of making the World Cup team for the 2001-02 season, missing out on a spot to eventual Olympic gold medalist Jim Shea. Shea and Chris Soule earned Olympic spots based on their World Cup seasons, so it came down to Lund and Lincoln DeWitt for the third U.S. spot, and DeWitt edged him out. Lund attended the Salt Lake Games as a spectator but says it was so hard to watch that he almost wishes he didn't go. After that experience, he swore to himself that he would never miss out again.

Mom's memory
Lund's mother, Penny, was diagnosed with skin cancer when he was 13 years old and died two years later. He finds ongoing inspiration in words his mom shared with him. "Before she passed away, she sat me down and she said: 'You know, you can do anything you want in life. If you promise me one thing, and that's to always follow your dreams.'" Lund always wears a necklace that his mom gave him. "It has a locket of her hair and a cross ... She said 'Even when I'm gone I'll always be with you.' And this is a reminder. And so I wear this every day, even when I compete I wear this. I mean when I'm going down the track I can - I mean it's metal. It pushes into my chest with those G-forces and you can feel it. And that, to me that's a reminder that she's there with me."

Proud papa
Lund was married for a short time and during that relationship, his ex-wife gave birth to a daughter, Alyssa, who is now six years old. Alyssa lives with her mother in Texas but stays with Lund during the summers and every other Christmas. "That time is very important to me," he says. "I have had to change my training to make sure I can have quality time and good time with my daughter. It has to be just as important as training. I had to learn how to balance them both."

Flying fire fighter
Lund is enrolled at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, where he studies aviation, and plans to become a firefighting pilot. His father, Mac, is a captain in the fire department in Salt Lake City.

Getting started
Lund grew up skiing at Alta, in Utah, where his parents owned a day care center. He skied competitively and says his initial goal was always to make it to the Olympics as a downhill racer. When he was 13, Lund's dad took him to luge tryouts in Park City, and he earned an invitation to camp in Lake Placid. During that same time his mom was diagnosed, so Lund chose not to go. But when a new track was built in Park City for the 2002 Games, he began training in luge there and made the junior national team. Dissatisfied with his progress, he tried skeleton at the suggestion of Wendell Suckow, an American luger who finished sixth at the Nagano Games. Lund picked up the new sport quickly and made the national team for the 1999-2000 season.

At home in Utah
Lund loves spending time at his family's cabin outside of Salt Lake City. "It's the family cabin that's been handed down to the generations. I've spent 12 years of my life remodeling it," he explains. "I would rather be at my cabin hanging out with my family than anywhere else in the world."

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Who am I?

As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.

Steve Holcomb
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