UPDATED: Mid-South native to look for speed skating gold in Vancouver

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Despite the Mid-South's typically mild winters, an Arkansas native managed to find her talent on the ice, and it's taken her all the way to the Olympic games.

Kimberly Derrick is a medal contender in two Olympic events, after finishing her last season as a top ranked American speed skater.
In 2006, Derrick shocked everyone - including her parents - by making the U.S. Olympic team.  Derrick, a speedskater, made the team only 18 months after putting on her first pair of ice skates.

"We went to a local ice rink for practice," her father, Kenney Derrick, said. "Someone loaned her some blades put them on her skating boots, and she got out there and took off, and hasn't looked back since."

Derrick first strapped on a pair of inline skates when she was six years old, at her parents' roller rink in West Memphis, Arkansas.  But it wasn't love at first roll.

"The first time I ever put her on roller skates I remember her crying," Kenny Derrick said. "She didn't want to go out on the floor."

But she soon changed her mind.  Years later, in 2006, Derrick's parents watched the opening ceremony of the Torino Olympics on television, after spending $4,500 on tickets to her races.

"I remember jumping up on one of the tables and pointing at her," Kenny Derrick said.

That year, Team USA finished forth in the relay.  Then, just before Derrick's individual race, things took a tragic turn.  The night before Derrick competed in her only individual event, the 1000 meter, her grandfather died of a heart attack while in Torino to watch her compete.

Derrick was later disqualified when she bumped a skater.

Now, in Vancouver, she has a second chance.

"If things go the way they have been, I think we'll bring home a metal, said Kimberly's mother, Holly Derrick.

Derrick is the only winter Olympian in the history of the games to be born in Arkansas.  She grew up in West Memphis and now calls Memphis home.  Her parents live in Arlington, and they'll be watching the opening ceremonies Friday night in a Vancouver hotel room.

Click here to see Kimberly Derrick's profile on NBC's Olympic Zone website.

Here are the times you can catch Kimberly Derrick competing:

  • The women's speed skating relay this Sunday at 1:00pm.
  • Derrick will compete in the 1,000 meter Thursday, also at 1:00pm.
  • Her final event is is the 1,500 meter, scheduled for Sunday, Feb 21 at 3:00pm.

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