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This trainer knows his skeleton
Santa Rosa's Craighead helped U.S. bobsled team to gold at Vancouver Games

Its called The Participants Ring and once it arrives, it will have Byron Craigheads last name on it, the image of his sport (bobsled), the five Olympic rings, the host citys name Vancouver and the year, 2010. It will have diamonds. Craighead is not sure how many, and he is sure he doesnt mind.

The ring could have inlaid black walnuts, for all Craighead cares.

The ring is not be just a piece of jewelry. It is Craigheads scrapbook, representing not only wheres hes been for the last three weeks but for the last 39 years. All Craighead needs to do is rub it, like Aladdins Lamp, and presto, like the genie, all the memories suddenly will appear, all of them leading up to his most recent one being the trainer for the U.S. womens and mens Olympic bobsledders, standing there at the finish line watch the four-man team win its first gold in that event in 62 years.

For them to ask me back, for them to trust me enough. . . Craigheads voice softens.

The USOC is not known for being warm and fuzzy after someone declines an offer. Yet Craighead did just that in 2006. Craighead said no thanks, he just couldnt take two months off from his teaching at SRJC to be the U.S. bobsled trainer at the 2006 Turin Winter Games. He had done it in 2002, to be Americas bobsled trainer at the Salt Lake Games, and Craighead didnt want to put the school, the students and the substitute teachers through that chaos again.

But Craighead retired in 2007. The USOC came back to him again and Craighead came back to them again with the same kind of response that he had in 2002.

Ill give you one of my earlobes for the chance, said the Santa Rosa resident.

Why would USOC pursue Craighead? A number of reasons explain it, but none more colorfully than the story behind Craighead being called Evel Knievel after the famous motorcycle daredevil.

Im the only U.S. medical person to have ever done the two-man, four-man and skeleton, he said.

As he explained his first ride, one can understand why he is the only American medical person to have experienced all three disciplines. The year was 1993. Craighead was with the U.S. team at the Europa Cup a preamble to the World Championships in La Plagne, France.

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