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Barton celebrates hometown Olympians - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Barton celebrates hometown Olympians

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BARTON, Vt. -

It didn't win her a medal, but it was a historic day for Barton's Susan Dunklee. The biathlete had the best ever Olympic sprint finish for a U.S. Woman.

A banner hanging over this Northeast Kingdom community says it all: Congratulations and best wishes to two of Barton's own -- Ida Sargent and Susan Dunklee.  The Olympians are the talk of the town.     

"I think it is a tremendous sense of pride in the kids who have grown up here.  Hannah Kearney from Norwich was on the podium again.  It's impressive for such a small state," said Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans County).

And a small lunch crowd at Parson's Corner, where locals gather to eat and talk, isn't afraid to let the world know.  Not only was Dunklee's performance Sunday historic -- the best ever Olympic sprint finish for a U.S. Woman -- it was also centimeters away from a spot on the podium.  "Just so, so close to being in contention for a medal.  It was great," Sen. Rodgers said.

Both Dunklee and Sargent spent their younger years here at Barton Academy.  Math teacher Beth Quimby had both Olympians in her classroom.  "They have very supportive families as well as the whole community.  Their families always supported their interests and encouraged them to pursue their athletics and their academics," Quimby said.

Current 5th graders at the school recently got a visit from the skiers before their big trip to Sochi -- not exactly an everyday occurrence. "Barton is such a small town and there is not a lot of stuff that happens here, but there is stuff happening now because there are Olympians," said Audrey Roessler. It's inspiration that has this 5th grader, and others playing along side of her, shooting for the stars. "It makes me feel like I could be like them," she said.

A pair of skiers who don't even need to win a medal to make this region proud.  So, what's in the water around these parts that seems to breed Olympians. "I think it is the long cold winters and a lot of people have tough skin around here," said David Rath with The Parson's Corner.

Both athletes have more competitions ahead and this town will be supporting them every step of the way.  Two small-town girls who are now making it big on the international stage.

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