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Olympian inspires Barnum Elementary students

Olympian Anna Ringsred demonstrates the speed skating starting position to Barnum Elementary students Conner McNulty and Madisen Warnygora during her visit to the school last week. Photo Courtesy of Rita Johnson

Students in Rita Johnson’s fifth-grade class at Barnum Elementary got a real boost last week heading into MCA testing.

Highly successful Olympian and Duluth native Anna Ringsred visited the class on Wednesday, encouraging students to pursue their dreams and never give up in the face of challenges.

“She told the students that winning is not as important as having a dream and following through,” said Johnson. “She talked about how she enjoys a challenge, and that even when you think something is difficult, if you put your mind to it, anything is possible.”

Ringsred actually started out as a ski jumper until she broke her ankle at age 13. At that time, she saw an ad for speed skating in the newspaper and decided to give it a try. By the time she reached high school, she had already qualified for the United States junior speed skating team. In 2004, she qualified for the Junior World All-Round Championships, placing 22nd. She qualified for World Championship events in 2007, 2008 and 2010, with her best finish being a fifth place in the 2007 team pursuit.

Ringsred had four third-place finishes at the 2010 National Championships, but was not selected to the 2010 Olympic team. She retired from speed skating at the end of the season, but launched a comeback effort in 2012. She made the 2013 All-Round and Single Distance World Championship teams. Ringsred placed third in the 3,000 meters at the 2013-2014 National Championships and followed it up with a second place in the event at the United States Olympic trials to make her first Olympic team. At the 2014 Winter Olympics, she placed 26th in the 3,000 meters.

Ringsred is currently a chemical engineer by profession and said she is currently deciding if she will choose to compete again in the 2018 Olympics.

“She was a fantastic inspiration to us all, especially as we gear up to take the MCAs,” said Johnson. “She showed us that doing the work it took to make the Olympics paid off in a big way!”

Ringsred’s visit was inspired by a letter of invitation from one of the students after the class followed the progress of this year’s Winter Olympics, and Ringsred in particular.