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Joey Cheek

United StatesJoey Cheek

SportSpeed Skating
Event(s)1000m , 1500m , 500m
BirthdateJune 22, 1979
HometownGreensboro, NC
ResidencePark City, UT
HT./WT.6'1" / 175 lbs
Olympics2002

Joey Cheek_bio text

Torino update
American Joey Cheek sprinted to gold in the men's 500m. His victory marked the second consecutive win for the U.S. in the sprint event, as Casey FitzRandolph claimed 500m gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Games. He added a second jewel to his collection with a silver, behind countryman Shani Davis, in the 1000m.

Bronzed in Salt Lake
Cheek added to the U.S. medal tally by taking bronze in the 1000m at the Salt Lake Games (watch video), earning his first Olympic medal. He said the experience was a blur, adding, "I only wish the Dutch national anthem (the Netherlands' Gerard van Velde won gold) was longer." Cheek said the Opening Ceremony was one of his highlights of the Olympics, where he called his family from his cell phone and met President Bush.

Joey CheekAlexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty ImagesAmerican Joey Cheek was a standout on inlines before switching to the ice.

Solid since 2002
The two-time Olympian followed up his Salt Lake success with solid results in the 2002-03 season. Cheek was fourth overall at the World Sprint Championships and earned two bronze medals (1000m and 1500m) at the World Single Distance Championships. Cheek slipped in the 2003-04 season, failing to medal at the World Single Distance Championships and finishing 15th in the overall standings at the World Sprint Championships. He rebounded in 2005, and earned a bronze at the 2005 World Sprint Championships in Salt Lake before winning the 2006 sprint title in the Netherlands in January.

American celebrity
Cheek became a bit of a celebrity after the Salt Lake Games. He appeared on MTV's "Total Request Live" where he and a couple of friends put MTV host Hilarie Burton in a speed skating skinsuit. Cheek also attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he saw Ozzy Osbourne.

Early results
At the U.S. Championships in December 2000, Cheek just missed making the World Cup team, so he entered the U.S. sprint trials one month later - for fun - because his times in the 500m were decent. Cheek managed to make the world sprint team in his first attempt, even though he hadn't competed in the 1000m for two years. By doing so, he also earned one of two American berths at the 2000 World Sprint Championships in Seoul, South Korea. Cheek placed 18th out of 33 skaters. He also competed at the 2000 World Single Distance Championships and placed 20th in the 1000m. He became a full-time member of the World Cup team in 2000-2001.

Facing his hero
Cheek says his career changed when he competed against one of his heroes (watch video), Dutchman Jan Bos, for the first time. At the 2001 World Sprint Championships, Cheek was paired with the 1998 Olympic silver medalist in the first 1000m. Cheek led the first lap and recalls that with one lap to go, "I was freaking out because I was still leading. It was so loud. Standing room on the backstretch." The Dutchman beat him by .31 of a second to record the sixth-best time. Cheek finished eighth. "I had been building (for a great result), but since then it's been like a switch went on," he says. "At the next World Cup in Helsinki, suddenly, scrapping from the back was not going to cut it."

Inline beginnings
Before he started speed skating, Cheek was a junior national champion as an inline skater. He was a member of two junior world inline teams and set junior national records in the 1500m and 3000m. He turned to the ice in 1995 because he said he needed a change from inline (watch video).

A close second
Cheek graduated from Dudley Senior High in 1997 as a classmate of NBA center Brendan Haywood, who plays for the Washington Wizards. "Unless I win a gold, for sure I won't be the most famous alum at my high school because basketball in Carolina is so huge," Cheek said.

Musical ambitions
Cheek's other major interest is music. The North Carolina native is a self-taught guitar player and admits he's a poor song writer. Music runs in the Cheek family as his father, Bill, was a music major and played in a bar band. In fact, he met Joey's mother, Chris, in a Virginia bar.

Off the ice
Away from the rink, Cheek enjoys going to clubs with teammates Kip Carpenter and Nick Pearson and building and shooting potato guns. After his skating career is over he hopes to attend law school and one day have his own show on MTV. His favorite bands include Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jeff Buckley. Before a race Cheek listens to Johnny Cash, especially "Fulsom Prison Blues."
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