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Olympic dream comes true for Moorhead's Ladwig

Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig compete during the pairs free skate competition at the U.S. figure skating championships in Spokane, Wash., on Saturday. Evora and Ladwig finished second in the competition. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A Moorhead native is going to the Olympics.

Mark Ladwig, a 1999 Moorhead Senior High graduate, and Amanda Evora of Sugar Land, Texas, were chosen Saturday evening by the U.S. Figure Skating International Selection Committee as one of two pairs for the Vancouver games.

Earlier Saturday, Ladwig and Evora placed second in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Wash., behind Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, the other Vancouver-bound pair.

The Olympics begin Feb. 12.

"It has been a lifelong dream. I actually worked in Salt Lake as a volunteer, and all week I've been carrying my participation medal," Ladwig said Saturday, pulling the bronze-colored medal out of its purple case. "It says, 'Light the fire within.' I still have my original volunteer gear under the bed. Maybe it's time to break it out so the wife can wear it in Vancouver."

Ladwig married Janet Beverly of Moorhead in 2006. While the couple makes their home in the Bradenton, Fla., area, Ladwig lists the Red River Valley Figure Skating Club as his home club.

According to a profile at, Ladwig started skating when he was 5 years old in the man-made outdoor rink behind his house.

He's been skating with Evora since 2003. They placed fourth in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2007 and 2009, and placed fifth in 2008.

In an interview with The Forum in 2006, Ladwig said he had his eyes on the 2010 Olympics, and was working on his triple jump to boost their medal chances.

It wasn't a guarantee going into the championships.

Keanua McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker were almost a lock for Vancouver after winning the national title in 2008 and 2009, but took themselves out of contention with another flawed performance Saturday after a disastrous short program. It was a stunning reversal of fortune for the former Whiz Kids, who had surprisingly quick success and endless potential but finished fifth.

An argument could have been made to send former U.S. champions and 2006 Olympians Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, who finished third after landing their signature throw triple axel. But Baldwin dismissed that idea while the selection committee was still meeting.

"First and second, that's how you should pick it," he said.

The champions, Denney and Barrett, skated a high-energy, action-packed program to "Sheherazade" on Saturday. They finished with 190.30 points, almost 17 points in front of Evora and Ladwig, their training mates.

Ladwig and Evora - who is Barrett's long-time girlfriend - put on an emotional and inspiring performance of their own that had the audience on its feet before they even finished.