Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Call Kane U.S. team's young gun

XU sophomore, 19, surprise member of team

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thrine Kane
(Glenn Hartong photos)
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        There's no way around this: That Thrine (pronounced Tree-nuh) Kane made the 2000 U.S. Olympic shooting team in the 50-meter, 3-position small-bore rifle event has to be considered an upset.

        For starters, she is better in air rifle competitions (led pellets vs. bullets). Also, she was considered more as a candidate for the 2004 team.

        At 19 years old, Kane is the youngest member of the 10-person U.S. team, for which members' average age is around 30. The Xavier sophomore is one of only two college students on the team — and the other is a senior.

        “I surprised everyone else and I surprised myself, too,” she said. “But it's a very good surprise.”

        Kane grew up in Merrick, N.Y. Her parents belonged to a rifle club located 10 minutes from the family's home.

Kane takes aim
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        When she was 7, Kane was shooting BB rifles and became a “distinguished expert.” She got involved in the rifle club's junior shooting program.

        At 12, Kane made the high school's varsity shooting team; she was a member for six years.

        “I guess I determined I was pretty good when I was in the ninth grade and I started beating all the guys on the varsity team,” she said.

        That year, she won the New York state championship which was for boys and girls. She went on to set 20 state records and three national records.

  • What: Women's 50-meter rifle, 3-position
  • When: Sept.19 in Cincinnati (Sept.20 in Australia).
  • Details: Kane has 2 hours, 15 minutes to take 60 shots from three different positions — 20 each standing, kneeling, lying down; every shot has a value up to 10 points (Kane usually scores in the low 580s of 600).
  She will stand 50 meters from her target, which is the size of a dime.
  The top eight after that round advance to the final, where they take 10 more shots, to be scored from 10.0 to 10.9.
  Scores from both shoots are combined to determine winners.
        Xavier shooting coach Alan Joseph first saw Kane at the Walsh Invitational, the largest indoor rifle match in the country, which is hosted by Xavier. Danielle Langfield, an XU junior, suggested to Kane that she consider Xavier.

        “I just fell in love with the school,” Kane said. “I don't think there was any other option for me. It was Xavier or nothing.”

        She was first-team All-America in air rifle and second-team All-America in small-bore rifle as a freshman.

        Last April, just before final exams at Xavier, Kane headed for the first of two Olympic trials for the shooting team.

        Kane finished third in the small-bore rifle event, then went to the USA Shooting National Championships in late June at Atlanta and finished second overall.

        “She believes in herself,” Joseph said. “She doesn't crack under pressure, no matter what the odds, no matter what the conditions.

        “It's just incredible that somebody at that age has that much confidence under pressure. She's very unique, just to have that ability to perform against people that have been ... training for years.”

        Kane is a 4.0 student majoring in international affairs and Spanish.

        Since she made the Olympic team, she has talked to a half-dozen newspapers and a half-dozen television stations. A banner hangs on XU's new Cintas Center wishing Kane good luck in Sydney.

        “It was uncomfortable for me, but I can handle it,” she said. “I'm just not used to getting publicity at all. In New York, usually the only publicity shooting gets is negative.

        “I'm trying to take everything in stride and I'm trying not to think of it as the biggest match of my life and put all the pressure on myself.”

        Before matches, she stretches, which helps her relax. She listens to “Desert Rose” by Sting and “In Your Room” by Depeche Mode.

        “I try to keep my thoughts positive,” Kane said. “I try not to think about shooting while I'm shooting, because if I think about it, then I'll start to analyze different aspects of my position, or I'll start thinking about my pattern of breathing.

        “The more your heart beats, the greater your pulse. When you're shooting, you can notice your pulse at the end of your barrel. Your sights will bounce up and down with your heartbeat.”

        Kane left for Sydney determined to enjoy the experience.

        “People always said, "Oh, you'll make the Olympic team.' Now they're saying, "Oh, you'll win a gold medal,'” Kane said. “I don't know if people are really expecting me to, but I think that people know that somewhere in me I have the potential to do that.

        “I personally don't think I have control over whether I win a gold medal or not. It depends on how I compare to everyone else on that day. I could have a great day and everyone else could have a poor day, or it could go the other way around.”

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