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Speed skating phenom a winner on and off track

by Lora Abcarian | March 01, 2010
When the Washington Potato Commission announced its partnership with world class short-track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno in 2009, there was no doubt it was a winning combination.

The fact was confirmed in mid-February at the Vancouver Winter Olympic games when Mr. Ohno became the most decorated American winter olympian in history, shattering the record previously set by Olympic legend, Bonnie Blair.

"We knew he was a winner when we signed on with Apolo, but we are so pleased to see him doing well and getting the increased coverage at the games," Karen Bonaudi, assistant director of the commission told The Produce News. "He is probably the most genuine athlete out there of his stature: a smart and nice guy. Washington potatoes are lucky he appreciates us."

The 27-year-old skating phenom garnered his seventh career medal at the games. In all, he has won two gold, two silver and three bronze Olympic medals. A native Washingtonian, Mr. Ohno became the spokesman for Washington potatoes last September. Ms. Bonaudi said that he is working with the commission in its ongoing efforts to educate the public and youth about the importance of Washington potatoes. Mr. Ohno plans to share his favorite potato recipes as part of the commission's outreach program and talk about the ways in which fresh potato consumption can fuel a healthy lifestyle.

Last fall, WSPC Commissioner Angela Pixton had nothing but praise for Mr. Ohno. "Apolo shares in the vision and values of the Washington State Potato Commission," she stated. "His passion and interest in encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles with proper nutrition and exercise is what makes him a terrific ambassador for the commission."

Chris Voigt, executive director of the commission, was equally enthusiastic. "Given Apolo's natural affinity for Washington potatoes and his love for eating and cooking healthy foods, we're thrilled to have him as ambassador for our champion potatoes and healthy messages," he said.

According to Ms. Bonaudi, the partnership will continue through August.