Tom Abbey, a 26-year-old personal trainer at Falls Church’s Vantage Fitness, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Development Skeleton Athlete Program last week by being one of only two athletes out of 19 who were selected after a week of tryouts at Lake Placid. Abbey’s scores in general athletic drills were “off the charts,” according to Garrett Rambler, owner of Vantage. He scored 397 out of a possible 400 points in four categories and in two cases, his performance exceeded the top number on the ranking chart. In the vertical jump, the highest chart number was 36 inches and he jumped 39.
“They had to invent a new way to score his effort,” Rambler said. Abbey also did some test runs of the skeleton race and exceeded 65 miles per hour. Abbey, who has never actually been in a skeleton competition, drew community support at a fundraiser at Argia’s Restaurant last month to help pay expenses for his tryout. From now on, many of his expenses for his development to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will be paid for him, but he’ll still need some local backing.