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As we wind down the 21st Winter Olympics, the U.S. Olympic Committee passed along a piece of the blueprint for No. 22 and beyond:

An Olympic journey begins with a single step. It's that first one toward a goal that's the most important.

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For every one of the medals earned by U.S. Olympians in Vancouver and Whistler, there was that first step on the frozen ponds of Minnesota, the ice sheets in Wisconsin, the rinks of Boston and the hills and jumps in Steamboat Springs.

They all asked those first questions about how to be an Olympian to a parent or a coach. How do I take that first step?

And the answers came. "So you want to be a bobsledder, Steve? Do you know where Lake Placid is located?

"Well, Apolo, You want to learn how to skate? Vancouver is a pretty good place for a kid to learn.

"OK Lindsey, you might want to ski on that little hill in Minnesota?

"Shaun, you ought to learn how to spin around a couple of times, add a few twists and give it a good name, like the double MacTwist. Dude, that'd be Cool."

After watching the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler and reading about the heroes on the ice and snow, millions of kids in living rooms and back yards around America are asking the same questions.

"How do I get involved? How can I get on the United States Olympic Team."

If a soldier with six medals in the Army and a degenerative eye disease can pilot the USA bobsled to a gold medal in the Olympics, so can you.

If a young African-American skater from Chicago can win two gold medals in speedskating, you can too.

If a California skateboarder can be the best there has ever been in snowboarding, you can too.

You can be an Olympian. All it takes is a dream, some conviction ... and, most importantly, taking that first step.

And it doesn't matter where you live. There are hockey players from Simi Valley, Calif., speedskaters from Miami and Houston, bobsledders from Georgia. All found their way to Vancouver and the Olympic Games.

In this case, that first step is a phone call or getting online and checking out a Web site.

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The U.S. Olympic Committee is made up of a variety of organizations, including Olympic sports federations, also known as National Governing Bodies. There are eight of these for Olympic Winter Sports.

These federations would love to get those youngsters involved in their sports. But, first you have to ask.

For all those kids interested in becoming the next Shani, Apolo, Shaun, Lindsey, Bode or Steve, take the first step. Get on a Web site and find out how to get involved. Make a phone call, go to the library.

One day you could be on that podium. Or you could just have fun in your neighborhood. Either way, you'll be a winner.

For that first step, pick a sport. Pick several sports and contact them. Here's a list to help you get started:

U.S. Biathlon Association

49 Pineland Drive, suite 301A

New Gloucester, ME 04260

207 688-6500 or 1-800-242-8456

www.usbiathlon.org

US Biathlon@aol.com

U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation

1631 Mesa Ave., Copper building

Colorado Springs, CO 80906

719 634-5186

www.usbsf.com

abird@usbsf.com

USA Curling

5525 Clem's Way

Stevens Point, WI 55482

715 344-1199

Info@usacurl.org

www.usacurl.org

U.S. Figure Skating Association

20 First St.

Colorado Springs, CO 80906-3697

719 635-5200

info@usfigureskating.org

www.usfigureskating.org

USA Hockey

1775 Bob Johnson Dr.

Colorado Springs, CO 80906

719 576-8724

usah@usahockey.org

www.usahockey.com

U.S. Luge Association

57 Church St.

Lake Placid, NY 12946-1805

518 523-2071

info@usaluge.org

www.usaluge.org

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association

1 Victory Lane, P.O. Box 100

Park City, UT 84060

435 649-9090

www.usskiteam.com

www.ussnowboarding.com

www.USAA.org

U.S. Speedskating

Utah Olympic Oval

5662 South Cougar Lane

P.O. Box 18370

Kearns, UT 84118

801 417-5360

www.speedskating.org

pkinder@usspeedskating.org

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