Odessa skating coach had Olympic experience

Odessa skating coach had Olympic experience
(Source: KWES)

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - As the winter Olympics wrapped up Sunday night, some athletes who participated in Pyeongchang are leaving with medals. But all will leave with memories to last a lifetime and there's one Odessa man who has Olympic memories of his own. Larry Langford is 70 years old and still laces up his skates almost every day at the MCM Ice rink.

"I was 4 so when you do the math. It's a long time, I've been coaching for 45 years now, I'm starting my 45th year," said Langford.

While his focus now is primarily on aspiring skaters in West Texas, he's seen rinks all over the world.

Right after high school, he competed all over Europe and Canada, before returning to Portland, Oregon, to begin is coaching career and it wasn't long before he was instructing internationally as well.

"I guess where the ice would take me I went and I ended up in Helsinki, Finland, in 1981 and stayed there through the '84 Olympics in Sarajevo," said Langford.

Following the ice but also following one of his clients, a daughter of a doctor from Finland, whose father approached him with the idea.

"Dr. Palkima came to me and said, 'Hey, wouldn't you like to come back to Finland with us and continue coaching our daughter?' Well, it was 5 o'clock in the morning and I hadn't had enough coffee yet so I said, 'Oh sure.' Well 3-4 weeks later, I get this contract from the Olympic committee all in Finnish and I had to trust his translations and that's how I ended up there," said Langford.

And that leap of faith landed Larry on the biggest stage of his sport, the Olympics, to which he says is everything you imagine it to be.

"And more. And more. You look around and you just can't believe. I can't believe I was actually there," said Langford.

It was following a former student that brought him to Odessa. He arrived when MCM Ice opened. And has no intentions of moving anywhere else.

"This is home I love the people here. I love the atmosphere. We're very lucky to have this ice rink. You have to go 300 miles to find a rink anywhere else. Will people come in and say Ice skating in Odessa? And it's like yep," said Langford.

And while his client has changed drastically, his coaching style has remained consistent.

"You get positive results with positive results input. You know the whole thing about flies with vinegar, well, I definitely believe in the honey," said Langford.

Larry said there is always a little surge at the rink after the Olympics, and you never know where the next champion could come from.

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