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Lexington kids get taste of Olympics

Rebecca Moskul, 11, stood on the middle riser of the Olympic awards podium, a gold medal around her neck, and beamed as the cameras flashed.

Then she stepped down to speak with the media.

"It was really nice; I enjoyed it," Rebecca said.

The Richmond resident, who has been skating for 21/2 years, was taking part in a junior Olympics Saturday at the Lexington Ice Center. She said she hopes to make it to the real Olympics someday, in figure skating.

Next to her on the podium was her best friend, Hannah Stapleton, 10, also of Richmond, and also wearing a gold medal.

"I'm just a guest; I've been skating with her for two days," Hannah said. "I thought I did pretty good."

Several hundred kids took part in the local version of the Olympics. All of them were in the Learn to Skate program at the ice center, or guests of those who were. All of them got gold medals.

The event was organized by June Warta, who teaches skating lessons at the center, works as a private skating coach, and does plenty of free work for skating groups and her daughter, Cali, who is on the Henry Clay High School ice hockey team.

"We're basically just taking the opportunity to bring the Olympics closer to home for the children here in Lexington," Warta said.

All the participants presumably were from Kentucky, but they wore flags marking them as representatives of not only the U.S., but Canada, Finland and Sweden.

The event was sponsored by McDonald's, which supplied banners and enough Apple Dippers for 400 kids. Also on hand: Ronald McDonald, with skates on the bottom of his size 29EEE shoes.

There was an Olympics-style ceremony in the middle of the two-hour event that featured a St. Bernard dog named Sherwood, after the hockey stick manufacturer.

The local Olympics competitions included ice hockey, luge (with blue trays to slide across the ice), slalom (with plastic evergreens to skate around), and curling (which was just as exciting as in the real Olympics, except that the polished granite stones had been replaced with plastic gallon milk jugs filled with ice).