Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Vaulter's Poles Make for Unusual Baggage

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Vaulter's Poles Make for Unusual Baggage

Article excerpt

Lacy Janson stood at the US Airways check-in counter at Tampa International Airport Wednesday and patiently watched the circus play out in front of her.

The two blue bags with USA written in red on the side were no problem and could easily be checked through to London. The carry-on backpack, emblazoned with lettering that said USA Track and Field, did not raise an eyebrow.

But that 15-foot canvas bag resting on the floor behind Janson quickly became a source of confusion and consternation.

The agent attempting to check in Janson quickly conferred with a co-worker. Soon, a third agent joined the meeting. Then a fourth, this one armed with a tape measure.

Qualifying for the 2012 London Summer Olympics in pole vaulting was difficult for Janson. But getting her equipment to the games seems almost as challenging.

"It happens almost every time," said Janson, who patiently explained to each of the agents that she would not book a flight without making certain the tools of her trade could also make the trip. "I come to expect something and if something does come up ... it's 'been there, done that.'

"There seems to be always someone who looks at the bag and insists that it will never fit on the plane."

Inside the unwieldy 15-foot bag that weighs 45 to 50 pounds were eight vaulting poles, paraphernalia that helped send the 29-year- old Cardinal Mooney High graduate soaring past the 15-foot mark, landing her on the U.S. Olympic team.

This time the conference of agents concluded that the container would be treated as an extra checked bag, a charge of $100, a small price to pay, as long as the poles arrive in London today when she does.

"That's my only worry now, having them arrive at the destination," Janson laughed. But it would be no laughing matter should Janson face the biggest moment of her athletic life without the equipment that helped get her there.

And one thing she has learned while traveling as an athlete is that there is no guarantee that her equipment will follow.

Janson has had poles lost ... and returned a year later. As she traveled from France to Italy, the poles never made it, even though her name and address were on the bag. …

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