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February 7, 2014

LOCAL FLAME: Son of Southern Indiana native competing in Olympics

NEW ALBANY — There’s a local connection to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and it’s not that the weather around Southern Indiana lately has resembled what one would expect to find in Russia.

Dallas Robinson is a 6 foot, 4 inch, 226-pound, Army World Class Athlete Program member and a brakeman on one of the United States Olympic bobsled teams.

He also grew up in Oldham County in Kentucky, and is the son of Mike Robinson, who graduated from Our Lady of Providence High School in 1965 and was raised in Sellersburg.

Mike Robinson — who graduated from Hanover College and spent some time teaching at New Albany High School and Floyd Central High School before moving away from the area — even delivered newspapers for The Evening News in his younger days.

Now he’s hoping to see his son deliver a medal in the Winter Olympic games, though he conceded where he places isn’t as important as what he’s achieved.

“What I say to people is that Dallas has already won,” said Robinson, who now lives in Florida where he owns a business.

“He has had the experience of traveling all over the world. He goes from the Swiss Alps one week to the German Alps the next week — it’s just amazing the pictures he sends back.”

Dallas Robinson set collegiate and high school records as a track star. After college, his blazing speed and sizable frame made Robinson a sought after recruit for sports he never thought about playing.

First it was rugby, and Robinson qualified for a traveling U.S. team after national officials contacted him once they saw him run during an unrelated event.

He injured his shoulder and had returned to Kentucky where he coached track at Berea College when Robinson was again recruited to try out a new sport.

Robinson, according to his father, still had a passion for track, but had realized he wasn’t fast enough to compete at a world-class level. But his athleticism earned him a chance to try out for a lower level bobsled team.

He worked his way up the ladder, and last month was selected for the U.S. Olympic team.

Robinson, 31, is slated to be a brakeman in the two-man bobsled event, and will also compete for the U.S. on a four-man bobsled team.

It’s a fast-paced sport, as the bobsleds travel at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour. Severe accidents and even deaths have occurred during bobsled events.

It’s a fact that’s never lost on his father.

Mike Robinson saw his son wreck for the first time while watching him compete on television. It was during an event in Austria, as the four-man bobsled turned over in the middle of the run.

“He came flying out of the back and went down the hill about 80 yards, sliding on his back and bumping his head on the walls,” Robinson said. “I about had a heart attack. I thought oh my God, he’s got a broken neck.”

Safety of a different kind is on the minds of many as the Olympics begin. Threats of terrorism in Southern Russia have resulted in massive security worries.

There have also been complaints about lodging in Russia for the winter competition.

Mike Robinson said the family decided not to go to Russia at the behest of Dallas, who told them he didn’t want to be distracted from the competition by worrying about his family’s safety.

But Mike Robinson said obviously he will be watching, and will be quite proud of his son.

Look for Dallas Robinson during the two-man bobsled competition, which will be held on Feb. 21, and during the four-man event on Feb. 23.

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Families enter Renaissance Academy, Clarksville Community Schools' New Tech high school, for an open house on July 17. Much of the construction is finished on the building, with classes beginning on July 31.

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