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January 23, 2013 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-01-23

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''8A - Wednesday, January 23, 2013,

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Post-London, Mikulak returns to Michigan

0

By ALEX TAYLOR
Daily Sports Writer
Sam Mikulak's 2012 Olympic
competition ended with a stuck
landing, a kiss oft the vault and
an embrace with his coach. It
was also how a new chapter of
his life began.
After finishing fifth indi-
vidually in the vault and par-
-ticipating with Team USA which
finished fifth overall, the junior
from Corona del Mar, Calif. got a
chance to take in the rest of the
Olympics as a spectator.
Instead of leaving the Olym-
pic Village to go home after he
was done competing, Mikulak
relished the opportunity to stay
with his fellow Olympic athletes,
getting a chance to talk and
interact with them.
"The coolest person I met was
Serena Williams," Mikulak said.
"She is such a superstar and she
came up to us and just started a
conversation like we were on the
same level."
Unable to attend the Opening
Ceremony since the preliminary
rounds for gymnastics were the
next day, Mikulak made ita point
to attend the Closing Ceremony.
"Gymnasts are some of the
shorter athletes there, so you
couldn't really see much. I felt
I would have been more excited
to actually see what was going
on instead of seeing the back of
tall peoples' head," Mikulak said.
"But it was awesome just being
there because, how often do you
get to go to the closing ceremony
of the Olympic Games?"
Following the closing cer-
emony, 'Mikulak and the rest
of Team USA received a king's
welcome when they returned to
the United States, complete with
fire trucks, a huge American flag
and the announcement of every
returning athlete.
He also received a similar
reaction upon returning home to
California, a welcome his family
and friends attended.

For an Olympic athlete, NCAA
champion and All-American
several times over, it would be
easy for Mikulak to focus solely
on himself and his events. But
Mikulak's focus is solely on the
team.
"Individual isn't really what I -
am focusing on," Mikulak said.
"I would love just for the team
to come out with the NCAA gold.
Right now that's all I'm going to
be focusing on and just trying to
get back as fast as I can and help
the team."
The team he is referring to is
Michigan, currently No. 2 in the
nation. It mostlikely will become
the No. 1 team in the country
soon, since it's coming off a win
at the Windy City Invitational.
This first-place finish was not
only impressive due to the fact
that they beat No. 1 Illinois and
No. 4 Ohio State, but also due to
the fact that they won it without
the help of Mikulak, who was at
the U.S. national team camp in
Colorado.
Besides a team national cham-
pionship, Mikulak also wants to
compete for the United States
once more at the 2016 Olympics
in Rio de Janiero. The timetable
for the Olympics is favorable for
Mikulak, who will only be two
years out of college. Another
advantage for Mikulak will be
working with veteran Michigan
coach Kurt Golder and the rest of
the staff in Ann Arbor.
"After I graduate, I'll stay here
with the coachingstaff and great
apparatuses here," Mikulak said.
"I think it will be a smart choice
because they led me to the Olym-
pics one time. I don't see why in
a few more years they can't do it
again."
And if all goes as planned,
Mikulak will be on the world
stage once again in 2016, hoping
he can finish his Olympic expe-
rience with a stuck landing, an
embrace with his coach and a
kiss on his shiny new Olympic
medal.

a
6

FILE PHOTO/Daily
Junior Sam Mikulak finished fifth individually in the vault in the London Olympics last summer, but injuries have delayed his return to the Wolverines since then.

"It was a very nice feeling hav- Mikulak was also honored -
ing everyone appreciate me com- along with other Olympians
peting for the country," Mikulak from the University - during a
said. "There was a lot of moral home football game at Michigan
support, and everyone was just Stadium on Oct. 13.
so happy for me." In addition to.being honored
After returning from the at the Big House, Mikulak and
Olympic games, Mikulak saw a his fellow American Olympians
significant increase in the num- were honored at the White House
ber of people that recognized by President Barack Obama,
him in public and while on cam- First Lady Michelle Obama and
pus. He saw his followers on his Vice President Joe Biden.
Twitter account rise to more "I met President Obama and
than 85,000, which puts him Mrs. Obama and gave her a nice
ahead of two other prominent little hug, but she is a lot taller
Michigan athletes: men's basket- than what she looks on TV,"
ball guard Trey Burke and quar- Mikulak said.
terback Denard Robinson.
Cheering on Robinson and the ***
rest of the Wolverines at football
games proved to be difficult for Although he's had great expe-
the Olympian, as fans constantly riences after the Olympics, not
asked him for pictures and auto- all has been smooth sailing for
graphs throughout the games. Mikulak.

Nursing a lingering ankle
injury, Mikulak received a corti-
sone shot in his ankle soon after
returning from London. Shortly
after coming back from the ankle
injury, Mikulak tore a muscle in
his left calf during practice, leav-
ing him in a boot for close to a
month. He has been recovering
from that for three months and is
getting close to a return.
"The calf is almost healed,"
Mikulak said. "I have to start
doing landing in a week or two,
and hopefully be back tumbling
and vaulting not long after that."
The injury, however, may turn
out to be a blessing for Mikulak.
Since he couldn't vault or tumble
with the torn calf, he has had
more time to focus and improve
his ring work. Mikulak has
admitted that the rings haven't
been his strongest event, and he

expects it to improve consider-
ably when he returns.
"In my whole all-around,
everything has been great except
for my rings," Mikulak said.
"Now that I have the rings that
I have improved on significantly,
my all-around should boost quite
a good margin."
Mikulak has previous experi-
ence with turning an injury into
something positive. During the
2011 season, he broke both of
his ankles, giving him a chance
to work on one of his self-pro-
claimed weaker events, the pom-
mel horse.
"My two weakest events have
gotten a lot better over the last
few years because of my inju-
ries," Mikulak said.

Wolverines forced to
re-evaluate team goals

By MATT SLOVIN
ManagingEditor
Asthisseasonhas wornon,the
:Michigan hockey team's goals
have understandably changed
a considerable
,amont. NOTEBOOK
anAccording to
- coach Red Berenson, the Wol-
kverines "can forget about first
t'place and second place (in the
CCHA)," but a first-round bye is
still in the picture. The Wolver-
ines are currently in second-to-
last in the standings, nine points
behind Alaska, which is the last
team that would receive a bye if
the season ended today.
In the CCHA playoffs, the top
five teams receive first-round
byes, the top four teams are
given a home series in addition
to the bye, while the fifth-ranked
f team starts on the road and the
ninth-, 10th- and 11th-ranked
teams play the sixth-, sev-
enth- and eighth-ranked teams,
respectively, in the tournament's
opening round.
"We're trying to get into a
playoff attitude now," Berenson
said Tuesday. "We're not cruis-
ing into the final weeks of the
schedule. We're clawing our way
into the final weeks, and that's
how we need to approach it."
Junior forward Luke Moffatt
knows that peaking at the right
time could allow the Wolverines
to makea run forthe Mason Cup.
"That's what it's coming down
to now," Moffatt said. "We're
going to have to play really well
in that CCHA Tournament and
fight for the win there."
The team took major strides
toward a more successful sec-
ond half of the season in its split
against Lake Superior State last
weekend. But a potential peak
that could help the Wolverines
extend their season might still
be far off.
"Obviously, we haven't even
come close to peaking," Beren-
son said.
Berenson cited that Alaska

UNIVERSITY OF_.-_..~
MICHIGAN
WHAT DO t
RHODES/MARSHALL/MITC
SCHOLARS-.<
DO AFTER THEIR STUDIES
Well, this guy became governor
of Louisiana.

6

.9

What will you do?
Anything you want.
You've written your own game
plan so far in life. Why not take
it one step further and become
a Rhodes, Marshall, or Mitchell
Scholar?

0
0

PAUL SHERMAN/Daily
Michigan coach Red Berenson thinks his team could still earn a bye.

has managed to put together
some momentum. The Nanooks
have won four straight - two
over Michigan and two over
Notre Dame, which currently
holds a share of first place in thet
league with Western Michigan.
"We're got 10 games left -
there are 30 points out there,"
Berenson said. "If we don't get
half of those points, we're not
going to make it. We've got to
play way over .500 hockey.... Top
five is possible."
"THE TRIP FROM HELL":
Long trips after road losses are
never a pleasant ordeal.
But the overnight commute
back from Sault Ste. Marie was
especially forgettable for Michi-
gan.
The team bus rolled out of
Lake Superior State's snowy
campus at 10 p.m. on Saturday,
and a trip that typically takes
five hours took well over seven
to complete. It was 5:30 a.m. by

the time the Wolverines finally
made it back to Yost Ice Arena,
having traversed through haz-
ardous driving conditions that
prompted Berenson to refer to it
as "the trip from hell."
"Did we enjoy the (opening
weekend of the) NHL?" Beren-
son deadpanned. "I watched my
first game (Monday) night."
HAIL TO THE WHO?: After
each series sweep, the Wolver-
ines have a tradition of singing
The Victors in the locker room.
Last year, they were able to do
it six times. But the Lakers' win
on Saturday night kept this sea-
son's count at zero.
"I told our team after the
game, 'Christ, I'm goingto forget
the words if we keep doing this,'
" Berenson said. "It's important.
We don't rave about it, but that's
an important part of the locker-
room mentality. How about all
the incoming freshmen? They're
goingnto forget the words."

Bobby Jindal, Rhodes Scholar 1992

Come to a Rhodes/Marshall/Mitchell Orientation Session:
Monday, January 28, 2013 * 5:00-6:00pm
Vandenberg Room, Michigan League
Wednesday, January 30, 20130 5:00-6:OOpm
Kuenzel Room, Michigan Union
Tuesday, February 5, 2013 . 5:00-6:00pm
Boulevard Room, Pierpont Commons
To learn more, please contact the Provost's Council on Student Honors at
734-763-8123 or visit the website at
provost.umich.edu/scholars/

A

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