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Former Olympic speed skiing coach remembers leading top athletes

Vin Lananna isn't the only Eugene Olympic coach. Randal Rogers coached the speed skiing team in 1992. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - Eugene has multiple ties to the Rio Olympics.

Both athletes and coaches, like the men's track and field Coach Vin Lananna, are there now.

But there are more people in Eugene with Olympic roots just as deep. Randal Rogers is one Eugenian with deep Olympic ties.

"I'm an Olympic nut," said Rodgers.

Rodgers put on the first World Cup Speed Skiing Race in North America at the Willamette Pass.

Then in 1992, Rogers was asked to coach the men’s and women's Olympic speed skiing team.

"That's me, I had just started growing my mustache back," Rogers said pointing to a picture of him at the Olympics.

Then, in 2002, he returned to the Olympics, this time, to put on snowboarding events in Park City Utah.

"It (the Olympic ski team) was a family," elaborated Rodgers. "On the hill, you know, it was competition. And off the hill it was this smorgasbord of the Swedes, and the Fins, and the US, and the French."

Rogers remembers the ring of the cow bells filling in for gloved hands to cheer on the athletes.

He said his best memories lay with the athletes like Olympian CJ Mueller.

"And when he (CJ Mueller) calls me coach, like on Facebook and stuff, it just it just gets me," said Rogers.

Memorabilia like towels, cowbells, and Olympic pins throughout his house embraces the spirit of the games.

"This one here I got from Christie Yamaguchi," said Rogers pointing to a pin in his collection.

It’s a once in every four years event, apart of his past, that he hopes others will share sentiment about as well.

If you have an Olympic story you can reach us at news desk at newsdesk@kmtr.com.

Or tweet us at #NBC16Rio.

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