Skater Emily Scott gets help on way to Sochi

Associated Press
Emily Scott of the United States practices during a short track speedskating practice session at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Emily Scott's dad made it through strange airports in far-flung countries to watch her skate in short track at the Winter Olympics. Her mom, if she's lucky, may get to watch her on TV in prison.

The 24-year-old former inline skater from Springfield, Mo., got to Sochi thanks to emotional support from her father and financial help from a crowd-funding website while her mom is serving a 12-year sentence for drug trafficking.

Scott was forced to apply for food stamps after her monthly stipend from U.S. Speedskating was cut from $1,950 to $600. Enough strangers touched by her story responded and she raised more than $48,000.

Scott used a portion of the money to help pay for her father's plane ticket and housing in Sochi. Relatives pitched in money, too.

Craig Scott's has been the main voice in Emily's life since third grade, when her mother went to prison the first time for methamphetamine manufacturing and trafficking.

"She was addicted to drugs by the time she was 13," Emily said. "Where we're from, we're one of the biggest meth capitals of the U.S. in Missouri. She just has no way out."

Carol Scott served two years, but couldn't turn her life around and landed behind bars again, this time with Emily's half-sister, Telisha, who is 12 years older than her.

"It kind of made me wonder why we couldn't be a priority for her," Emily said of her mother.

At that point, Craig Scott brought Emily and her other sister who is six years older to live with him, although he knew little about raising young girls.

Eventually, Craig figured out how to be both father and mother, fixing Emily's blond ponytail just the way she liked it. Even today, he'll go shopping with her and help choose outfits.

"He definitely filled that role perfectly," she said. "I'm fortunate enough that I did have my father. I don't ever feel like I had a void."

Carol Scott is currently serving her sentence at Chillicothe (Mo.) Correctional Center.

"I'm kind of comfortable with her being there," Emily said, relieved that her mother is no longer homeless or hungry. "It's unfortunate that we don't get to see her, but at least I know that she's safe."

Her dad was out of his element journeying to Russia.

Getting from Kansas City to Chicago to Washington, D.C., to Turkey to Germany and finally Sochi was unnerving for the 55-year-old who has hardly traveled at all, let alone been outside the U.S.

"It was definitely a scary deal," he said Friday in the Olympic Park. "Just the airports and really nobody speaking English anywhere. You can't hardly talk to anybody, it's just sort of make hand signals."

Craig Scott watched his youngest daughter's first Olympic race on his iPad after failing to arrive in time. Emily was eliminated Thursday after crashing in the 500-meter quarterfinals.

He'll make his way to his seat in the rafters of the Iceberg Skating Palace when short track resumes Saturday to watch her in the 1,500, one of Scott's stronger distances. She's also competing in the 1,000.

"I'm going to be screaming pretty loud because I got to make sure she can hear me," Craig said. "She's always had a coach, but I always was the one who did the screaming. All I can scream is 'Go! Go!' It's not really any advice; it's just turn left and go as fast as you can."

Emily talks to her father daily and her mother when she can. Her mother watched on the prison TV as Scott competed in the U.S. trials. Her parents divorced several years ago.

"I only get one mom and I want to support her because really everyone else has kind of given up on her," Scott said. "I feel like I'm kind of the mom, but I'm OK with that. I want her to meet my children some day and be around for that."

Now 52, Carol Scott went before a parole board last month seeking early release. The decision hasn't been announced yet.

"This is her last chance," Emily said. "I think she realizes that. She wants to catch up on everything she's missed out on. She's missed our whole childhood. My sister has four children; three of them don't even know her. It took a long time, but I think she's going to come out on top."

No matter what happens in her next two Olympic races, Scott feels like she already has.

"It really doesn't matter where you come from," she said. "If you have it within, then you can excel and be good at whatever you want to do as long as you put your heart into it."

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