MAPLETON — The pep fest at Maple River School Friday afternoon was fairly typical, with inspirational talks, cheering and music.
But the rally for former Maple River graduate John Landsteiner was the first "Olympic Pep Fest" for the school. With hundreds of sixth- through12th-graders chanting "U.S.A, U.S.A.," the school sent their support for Landsteiner, who is with the Olympic curling team in Sochi.
Several family members and their friends attended the rally, including Landsteiner's parents, Steve and Cheryl.
Cheryl told the students they should pursue their dreams, even if it isn't going with a traditional activity.
"He took a lot guff as it wasn't really a high school sport," she said of her son's involvement in curling.
Landsteiner's parents, along with eight others, will be leaving Sunday for Sochi, a trip that will include 17 hours in the air and 17 hours of layovers at Frankfurt and Moscow, before arriving Tuesday morning Sochi time, Monday evening Minnesota time.
"We'll miss their first game on Monday," Cheryl said. "We'll stay through the Gold Medal games on the 21st and then take off the next day."
She and her husband have been keeping a close eye on the news of security threats.
"We're going with our eyes wide open, but we think they'll do a good job with security. We're traveling as a group, taking a Russian translator with us and we're housed close enough that we can do most things walking rather than using public transportation," she said. "And the team I think will be fine."
The Russian translator is a college sorority sister of the wife of John Schuster, the captain of Landsteiner's curling team.
She was born in Russia and lived in Minnesota and now in California. The group is paying her airfare and hotel in exchange for her language skills.