We knew our friends and family would be watching from home. We did it!
This was easily one of the best nights of my life. We took home the silver medal in the men’s relay on the last day of competition. I guess you could say, “better late than never!” It was the only medal for team usa in speed skating. I’m extremely glad I got the opportunity to win my first Olympic medal.
We raced on Saturday night at 10:30pm Sochi time. The arena was sold out with thousands of Russian fans who made their presence known. But I always knew where to look in the stands for my team usa cheering section. Especially where my mom and girlfriend were sitting, anxiously waiting for the race. All season long we had waited for this moment, and the other four guys on my team had fire in our hearts. We had only one thing to do, go out there and win.
Going into the race there was no nerves, no worries at all. When we had a pep-talk that day, the only thing we talked about was just skate confident. We were the world cup Champions going into the race, so it was ours for the taking. But to prepare for the race we made sure to have a team moment and watch Warrior. The stage was set and our team was ready.
At the start of the race I was on the outside position. We knew that I needed to get to the front of the race, so I just imagined what we had gone over in practice the day before. The gun went off and as I made my way around the first corner there was a crash! Two teams fell directly in front of me and I hustled up the inside into second place.
The relay had literally exploded in the first lap and the cheering was intense. We had second place in our grasp, so I moved up right behind the Russian team to make the first relay push with Jr. We made sure to stay behind them for most of the race, making them use all of their energy to lead the race. But make no mistake, every move in that race was hard fought and difficult. It was probably the roughest ice I raced on all year, since we were the last race of the competition and there was no time for ice repair.
Here is a good shot of Jr as we moved to take the lead of the race. After letting Russia lead most of the race, we had to pick up the pace to win. It came down to the last exchange, and we were edged out by Victor Ahn. He had a crazy Olympic performance claiming 3 gold medals. If I could be edged out by one person I would go with Ahn. Needless to say, winning the silver medal brought tears of joy to our eyes. We did everything we could to win that race and that is all that matters now.
We celebrated on the ice, during the flower ceremony, and back at the USA house. Actually the next the days were a celebration for us! I couldn’t sleep and it was basically a whirlwind of media, medal ceremony and podium hijinks, and the buildup to closing cerimonies. It was the end of my Sochi experience, but definitely something I will never forget.
When I left the USA I had no idea what waited for me in Sochi. The park has lived upto its reputation and there’s been almost no problems so far. In the couple weeks I’ve been here the place has changed. Thousands of people have flooded into the park to watch the events. The venues are bright and always pretty full, but have not been sold out.
My take on all the events so far: incredible. I haven’t been to another Olympic Games but this Olympics is massive. The hockey games are exciting, speed skating is packed (but not sold out) every night, curling is a pleasure to watch, figure skating is fun, all the events I’ve watched are great. I got a US hockey Jersey and went to a game with my dad. That was for sure a proud moment, and hopefully not the last game I goto.
Luckily I got the chance to go up to the mountain cluster and watch the men’s bobsled. The USA team for two-man bobsled won the bronze medal and we witnessed all of it! The trip up the mountain took about a hour on the train. Then one gondola ride later we were there. The views from the mountains did not disappoint. We could see the Alpine skiing areas and plenty of places to shop. The buildings were not completely finished, but the mountain village is beautiful.
The Russian fans there are what really surprised me. They are actually nice to us (Americans) and are very respectful. When there is a Russian in the event, that’s when you hear them cheering. It’s not necessarily because they want them to win. Mostly it’s a moment for their country and they want you to hear all about it. The Russians won the gold medal that night, but the US team was close behind.
So far my events have been hard fought and aggressive. It’s too bad that I didn’t make it to the final round individually and that’s now in the past. I have my sights set on the relay event in two days. It’s the US team’s best chance to medal at the games. The Olympics are almost over so I’m pouring everything into this full-on battle. Let’s hope there is something shimmering (and metallic) waiting for me as well.
The wait is over. World Cup season if finally here, my second season with the World Cup team. The races start on Sept. 26 in Shanghai, then Seoul Korea right after. That means we will be spending about two weeks in Asia. I’m looking forward to seeing the cultures, getting some deals on merchandise, trying new foods. My favorite thing about traveling to Asia is the jet lag (hint of sarcasm). There will be a period of about a week that time has completely flipped. China is 15 hours ahead of where I’m from in Salt Lake City.
Last night we arrived in Shanghai for World Cup 1. It’s still a little difficult for me to make sense of where the time has gone since mid- April. A lot has changed for me with training, my recovery techniques, my mentality has changed. For the first time I’m feeling familiarized with international competition and the demands that are made on my body. The jet lag, changes in diet, competition layout, the racing and resting schedule. I have started working with more people (Doctors, trainers, therapists) to help keep me healthy and ready for anything.
Some of the best recovery tools you have are right in front of you. I’ll say that nutrition and hydration are the most obvious parts of recovery. I have learned a lot about these in particular since I am sensitive to gluten and have a tough time staying hydrated. When it comes to my sport (speedskating) I take all of this to the next level. Without letting my body rest and recover, I would never have gotten to the World Cup stage. That’s why many world class athletes use massage therapists, athletic trainers, medical professionals and others to force the issue of recovery. Like a lot of the skaters in SLC I goto Ryan Yakiwchuk (massage therapist) with Ultimate Body Work. He is amazing with helping athletes, especially elite athletes. When I go in to see him there is always a healing and positive atmosphere, which is important for physical and mental well being. He’s genuinely good with taking care of injuries, special needs or anything regarding recovery. That is hard to believe coming from a speedskater, and trust me we are not easy to accommodate… The latest technique we use is called fascia stretch therapy. Visit www.stretchtown.com to see what it is all about!
So what’s the main reason to get this treatment done? Getting a massage and stretching/ unwinding your tight muscles is going to help facilitate recovery. But that means nothing if you aren’t taking care of yourself and getting to know your body. It takes a long time to learn how your body can handle different types of training and recovery techniques. By acknowledging how your body feels and removing any doubt, you allow yourself to fully recover. That’s why I say that my mentality has changed. It affects everything including my performance and lifestyle. When I’m not training I can also feel the difference in my energy and general health. So maybe I was a little overworked in the past, but the fact is that with rest and recovery I can actually extend the lifetime of my career.
If you are an athlete or a workaholic, it’s probably difficult to keep your body hydrated all the time. Drinking more than you think you should is the best bet to make sure dehydration isn’t an issue. Other recovery tools I would like to stress are sleep (lots of sleep, zzzzzzz) and active recovery. Your body is constantly playing catch-up with muscle and tissue breakdown, so getting enough rest is the only way to let your body recover fully. I don’t have to preach about how important sleep is, but Americans are notorious for being sleep deprived. And when you’re not sleeping, another way to recover your body is light, low heart-rate exercise. That can be an easy spin on the bike, swim, jog, yoga, whatever suits you. Your body is a amazing machine which can filter out lactic acid, toxins, and anything you put into it.
Now that trials are over we have actually kicked it up a notch. There is only a limited amount of time to get good training in which means its time to work! But not only are we working hard, but recovering as well. That means cooling down after workouts, stretching, eating well, massages, etc. It’s amazing how much we can accomplish during the week. When I started with the national team it seemed like I had a lot to do. But now we can accomplish so much more as a team. When we decide as a group that it seems ridiculous. This experience has been truly remarkable and shows me that so much more is possible. I guess that is what the Olympic movement is all about!
Here are a few photos from the past couple months of training. They are pretty interesting since I have been all over the place for training, sponsor events, traveling, so enjoy!
Look for an update after World Cup 1 coming soon
2013 USANA Convention.
You may be thinking, “Is it hard to write when you’re busy training?” my answer would be no. I actually need some time to reflect on what I’m doing and take a step back. When it’s off-time for most people the plan is to go crazy. I don’t have that luxury because off-time for me means recharging the batteries. It’s difficult to be a short track speed skater and make time to just relax. Thankfully I’ve found some free time to get reacquainted with my notepad.
For most of my life I have been inline SpeedSkating. A lot of people recognize me from the short track national team, but previously I was on the inline world team. I raced with multiple sponsors like K2 skates, Luigino racing, MPC wheels and others. But the important thing I learned during that time was how to train myself. I had a team while i was racing. However, I wasn’t with them all year round. We had training camps and races together but they were three days long. After all the traveling to races I had to figure out my own training methods. I would skate with my local teammates as much as possible. We would find the best roads for our workouts and plan the training schedule. In most cases we would meet up somewhere with the best roads for intervals, sprints or marathons. For the other workouts I had to reach out and find opportunities in the community. Luckily I had a weight room to work in and access to sponsors to help me with my racing equipment.
Before I started competing internationally there were a couple coaches i worked with. Their families raced in our local club and it was a good place for me to start. After I made the world team I had to learn how to coach myself. I couldn’t get away with missing training sessions anymore, so it turned into a full- time job. That meant going out everyday and doing a specific workout on the bike, skating indoors, on the road, weight training and dry land. That being said, everyone needs a coach to improve. A coach can get you through the beginning of your career, but it comes down to you “the skater” to do it yourself. That is hard grasp at first, because everyone needs a team to get better. Sooner or later the coach can’t push any harder and you will be able to take care of everything yourself.
The competitive spirit is the most powerful weapon in any skater’s arsenal. Being with a team is constantly pushing the limits. Being with this team for the past year has taught me a lot about international racing, training techniques, and how to work harder as a team. But the farther along I get in my training, the more I realize the importance of my early years. I started off training myself to get better, stronger, faster. After getting more attention from coaches and skating with great skaters I picked up a lot of things. So now comes the hard part: putting it all together. I’m really relying on my past training to get me to that next level. All of those days I spent skating outdoors, rain or shine. I would even skate to practice, change my wheels and then skate indoors at the roller rink. My teammates and I went on road trips from one practice to the next. Skating by myself on the hills in Pennsylvania in my high school days. All of that has really gotten me through the labyrinth of trials I’ve encountered.
As for my ice skating career, the last 2 months have been very exciting. When we got together for our first training the energy was high. This would be a little different than normal, except we are just 6 months out from Olympic trials. Everyone that showed up wanted to make this their best year. The main focuses for early season are skating laps and making gains in my training off the ice. The group of people I have been working with have been great. We have been killing it on the ice, in the weight room and in our fitness testing. I have a feeling that all of us will be skating faster than ever before. That’s a good thing because this is the Olympic year and we need to be at our best by the Olympic trials. We have been planning this year of training since the last Olympic Games in Vancouver and have put in three years of hard work.
There have been a lot of improvements this season. Not only with the team but the community and willingness to help out. When we had special requests, the Energy Solutions Arena helped us with our training needs. the University of Utah made a commitment to helping us reach our goals. Also the staff at the Utah Olympic Oval have done their part to help us with all of our training needs. The local foods stores are helping with our nutritional needs. I hope that all the support keeps progressing through the year. It makes our jobs much easier. Within the team we have found a common ground with everyone involved in the sport. We will do whatever it takes to help each other and its a great feeling to have everyone working together. As we get closer to the World Cup trials some skaters may want to do their own thing. Not every skater needs the same training, which is understandable. But for now we all are vested in this program and work well together.
On another note, our team had the opportunity to visit Liberty Heights Fresh. This local-first produce distributor has teamed up with USS to help feed athletes. We went there as a team to check out the spread of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and pasta. The people we met, including the owner Steve, were very helpful, friendly and committed to the cause. Like us, they’re promoters of helping the community learn and eat better. Local farms have even invited us to come visit their farm to pick up food. Here are a few pictures from our visit.
To find out more about this SLC food supplier visit liberty heights fresh- Steven’s Blog
The best part about writing my blog is getting feedback from you guys. Just saying some words of encouragement it plenty. So feel free to ask about what else I’m doing or general questions you have for me. As always, please share.
Last month I had the privilege to be part of the NBC Olympic promo shoot in Los Angeles, California. The whole trip lasted about 5 days which gave me plenty of time to check out Beverly Hills and Hollywood. My mom also lived in the area so we had the chance to spend time together in Santa Monica.
While I was in LA there was also filming of short track skating. We managed to spend over four hours on the ice which turned out to be a lot of fun. We did some filming using the sled camera that followed us down the straight-away. That camera shoots over 1,000 frames per second to get every little detail of skating. The film crew focused on the the start and ice chips flying through the air! We also used helmet mounted Go-Pro cameras to capture passing and pack skating on short track. I’m really excited to see how these clips will come out when they air on NBC this fall.
The studio was packed with other winter Olympic athletes. I had the chance to meet bobsledders, lugers and skiers who were also invited to the event. The “event” was very fast paced and energized. What was cool about it was meeting the producers and newscasters from NBC who will be putting the footage together. They were extremely helpful in getting me prepped for the interviews and made everything go smoothly. I had no problems with being filmed alongside JR, Eddy, Jeff and the other athletes.
After I returned from LA. it was time to get back to training. The racing season is still months away, but we are getting a head start on the Olympic year. The atmosphere is quite different since the competition will be really fierce to capture a spot on the world team, and ultimately the Olympic team.
The next stop in my summer training was the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. We departed SLC with great expectations for the training camp. The flight was a little rough, but we made it to the ground safely. Flying in a prop plane isn’t ever an enjoyable experience. Every small wind sheer would shake the plane, which made for an interesting flight with lots of turbulence. We also saw this sign when we headed down to baggage claim.
It was great to be around other athletes in the training center. Don’t get me wrong, spending time with Travis Jayner, Johnathan Garcia, and the other speed skating athletes is very entertaining. We had a great time training together and getting ready for the tough year ahead. Not to mention the ping pong, and foosball games we had in the athlete lounge.. The athletes who live in the OTC all share that same energy for their sport and the dedication it takes to win. The staff and trainers are a big part of the push to get us ready for competing. I am very grateful to have them on my team as I prepare for the 2014 season.
There was an event going on at the OTC called The Warrior Games. More than 200 wounded service members competed in seven sports (archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball). Athletes were from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Sec Ops as well as the British armed forces. We were honored to be greeted by Prince Harry as he was the keynote speaker for the event. The event did mean a lot to me since I have family members in the marines. Being in the presence of the soldiers was really inspiring.
Spending time with the long track team and staff—> tons of fun. The coaches are fun when we re on the ice. But spending time with the off the ice, we had a lot of laughs and good times together. We had team activities planned like dry land sessions, weight training, hiking and running the incline. It brought back memories from my inline racing days when I stayed at the OTC for residency. But this time, being with the short track team was excellent. We also had fencing bouts, basketball and dodgeball games to boost team building.
I don’t have many chances to take time off. So I’m going to take this time to relax, enjoy life and reflect. During the last three weeks I have been my own coach. It has been said that athletes need to rest as hard as they train. There needs to be a good balance between training and time off. Plus having time off will create a new motivation to get back into training.
Many of you know that I’m training to be part of the Olympic team for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia. The last season was extremely tough and life changing. I made huge changes in my training which allowed huge gains in my racing. That being said, the last twelve months really took its toll on the whole team. The grueling summer training, intense race preparation… We deserve some time to unwind. So I took some time off to road trip and visit family/friends.
Being on the world team is a great experience. When the racing season was in full swing, I had my whole calendar filled and training mapped out for me. However, there is a flip side to that. Now I am slowly getting back into training and I have my own schedule. It’s almost like I’m relearning how to enjoy working out.
Being an athlete isn’t all about gaining strength and performing well. It’s also about knowing when to take it easy, moderating your training and having fun. Taking time to slow down and work on technique is important. Even if your teammates are racing you, some days there needs to be relaxed workouts. This will keep you from flat lining and getting burnt out.
The best way to keep yourself motivated is to constantly change it up. What I mean by that is always change the routine to keep your body guessing. Instead of doing to same workout everyday, change the intensity or add intervals. These are some of the things you can do on your own to get faster while still enjoying yourself.
The attitude you have in the beginning of your training plays a huge role in the outcome of the season. Most people like to make the start of the season fun. Actually, when you are just enjoying the work and going with the flow it can turn out to be your biggest gains. It’s true for all sports, when it’s fun you perform better!
When I do get back into training, it’s going to be a fun atmosphere. The dry land and running workouts will have plenty of rest and lots of variation. The bike rides will be easy-going. When we get into the longer bike rides they will be at a talking pace, where we can hold a conversation during a hill-climb. After all, it’s not only your legs pushing you up the hill… It’s your desire to be out and enjoying the ride too! How can we train and enjoy getting faster/stronger if we don’t have a good time?
This advice isn’t just for professional athletes, it’s for everyone. Anyone who is thinking about getting into racing: professional, amateur, international and domestic, and weekend warriors. I am speaking to cyclists, runners, skaters, you name it. It’s even advice for that guy who wants to try to ride to work as much as possible. It’s not about reaching your peak performance every ride. Just go out for a ride with some friends and enjoy the sheer pleasure and unique challenges sport has to offer.
For now I am enjoying some time away from skating. I’ve been able to spend some quality time with my girlfriend and visit friends who I haven’t seen for a while. During my road trip I had the opportunity to see some great people. Not to mention I had three weeks away from everything that is speed skating, so that was Really nice.
While I was gone I visited my family back in NJ & PA. as well as friends in Michigan and Wisconsin. I want to make a shout out to some of the medical professionals I also saw during my trip. The head athletic trainer of the USOEC at NMU Colby Lash, also Dr. Greg Nelson DC CCSP is Marquette Mi. Also Dr. Eric St. Pierre with ESP Sports Medicine is Boulder Co. They have helped me tremendously ever since I started skating with the national team.
And lastly I’d like to thank Dr. Gregory Pamel with Pamel Vision in NYC. Thanks for the check up, my eyes are great by the way. We had a good time in the city. What I enjoyed most was seeing the 9/11 memorial. I last saw the aftermath in 2002 or 2003 (can’t remember which) so I wanted to see what the memorial looked like.
We are done with the World Cup season. But we won’t forget all that happened in the last 6 months. We accomplished a lot not only individually but as a team. We made a huge effort to bring our team together. I skated my first World Cup in Calgary and broke the national record in the 1000m. JR won the 500m and broke the world record. We had our ups and downs in the relay, but the team (AKA The Honey badgers) clinched the world champs spot. We are one of 8 teams who will compete in the world championships.
We couldn’t have done it without our teammates and fans/supporters. I’m glad that we get the chance to show our country what we are made of on the world’s stage. Hopefully there will be a medal in our future! check out the live feed from the world championships in Drebecen, Hungary. Here is a preview of what it will look like.
The Dresden World Cup was my favorite of the season. It is a great city to host the World Cup and the people really enjoy speedskating. I actually speak German and visited Germany in the past. I’ve always enjoyed German culture which made this trip a little more interesting for me.
While we were in Dresden we toured around the older part of the city with nearly a thousand years of history.
Just to give you a glimpse into their speed skating culture, check out the Dresden ice arena.
Notice the long track ice sheet that’s full of skaters. I saw people walking from miles away with their skates in hand, just to spend some time at the ice rink. Another great thing about Dresden was the fans. Droves of people came out to see the finals and the stadium was filled with loud spectators.
For my 5th World Cup of the season it was the best World Cup I’ve had. I performed well in the 1500m A final, almost making the podium. There was a chance to get the bronze but at the finish I lost my footing and fell down. But this experience I’ve gained has paid off by learning that I can be in medal contention.
I’ll be racing in Hungary with JR for the world championships. Please stay posted on my blog and with ISU Results for live race results. I’m ecstatic to be in the running for the world title! It’s been a long road but the biggest race of the season is just weeks away.
Goodbye Sochi, and hallo Dresden. I’m glad to have made it to Germany in one piece. We were delayed in our flight out of Sochi this morning (7:00am) and almost missed our connecting flight. It was a very stressful travel day but three connecting flights later, we have arrived.
In these past few world cups I have found some answers. We are constantly looking for the best mixture of training and being prepared for anything (equipment problems, health, traveling etc). With the help of all the staff and teammates, it has been a great learning experience.
I’m still working on getting the kinks out with my racing. Finally there is a connection with racing and working with the World Cup staff. And believe me, there’s no substitute for the World Cup experience. We have a limited window of opportunity as athletes to win medals. Now that I’m starting to see the bigger picture, it makes my goals a lot more clear. The staff are here to help us get there (trainers, nutritionist, coaches). So it’s like a puzzle and all the pieces have to fall into place.
The team traveled all day today (I mean ALL day) to get to Dresden, Germany. It was a 2:00am wake up call to goto the airport. Here is the play by play.
We had a strong team meeting when we got here, and it looks like everyone is ready to do big things. Ill let you know that we didn’t have a great weekend. Now we have a chance to show that we are a strong team and come back from this. I personally feel very motivated and inspired for this final World Cup. We all want to take it to the next level and I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen.
So we are headed to a late practice tonight just to get our legs moving again. It is just what is needed for us to be ready for this coming weekend. Stay tuned in for the next thrilling update!
We have the second day of racing in the books. The Sochi World Cup has been a crazy experience. But this isn’t your normal World Cup because it’s the trial run for the 2014 Olympic Games. I am part of a 6 man team that will skate as the US “Olympic representatives”.
I have already raced the 1500m and I had a huge race, qualifying for the A final. Only after the race was over and I sat down the refs went to instant replay. I was called (penalized) for impeding, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to race again. I’ll be racing out of the reps in the 1000m.
As far as the competition goes, i think the Russian federation has done a great job. They are preparing for the Olympics next year and doing everything in their power to make us comfortable. They greet us at every door with hello or “privet”. The security is very tight and we feel extremely safe everywhere we go.
In the time that I’ve been in Russia it has been a pretty cold and rainy. So for those of you that don’t know, Russia is a pretty dreary place. I mean I wasn’t hoping for a tropical paradise when arriving in Sochi. Never the less, it is a tourist destination for beach goers. It seems a little weird that there is a warm climate and just a few miles away, snow on the mountain. That is how this winter Olympic Games are going to be done. The Olympic stadium will be right on the beach, and the skiing events will be just a few miles away.
In the midst of all this, there will be an F1 race track. That’s right, the following year there will be an F1 race through the Olympic park! But for now, it is still under construction.
The construction effort for this project is mind bottling. There will be a high-speed train to travel between the mountain and short track venues. I believe it can go as fast as 90mph. It is scheduled to be finished by September. It’s hard to put into words what it actually looks like, so here are some pictures to show how much progress they are making.
Here is a look at the Iceberg short track/figure skating venue.
My guess is that the construction won’t be finished in time. If there are no hold ups or problems along way, they will finish within a year. When we travel back and forth from the rink there is terrible traffic. Thanks to constant construction our travel takes anywhere from 20min to over an hour… Most of the time highway lanes are shut down during construction, which causes accidents.
Apart from the inconvenient construction that’s going on, the beach is a sight for sore eyes. Here’s a look at the Black Sea.
That is all I have for this post, but expect more in a couple of days when we finish here and move on to world cup 6 in Dresden, Germany.
Hello everyone, it’s my pleasure to bring you my next update on the world cup season.This was the week of preparation for world cups 5 & 6. It’s also the week of world sprint championships for long track. Here is a look at the oval.
As you can see they have made a few changes to host the world sprint championships. I’m a little bummed that we won’t be able to watch the events since we are leaving for Sochi, Russia. But I will try to keep you all informed on what’s happening.
Here is a link for the usspeedskating post
short track team assists in world sprint championships prep
The best way to train is with the fastest skaters. now that we are all together it’s a perfect training environment. We have all been working extremely hard and it has paid off. I skated my fastest lap time at practice (8.28 sec.) and made some great improvements. It’s really exciting to be leaving for Sochi and feeling physically ready and healthy.
I am very pleased that we have great coaches and staff to help us athletes. Guy Thiubault, now our short track head coach, has been a great addition to our team. Steve Gough is also back with us- I don’t know where I would be without him as a coach. We are blessed to have a fantastic group.
When we were finishing up an ice session one day, there was a crowd gathered in the lobby. Jr. Celski was placing his world record on the wall at the oval. I was witness to his sub- 39second 500meter and it was a great experience. We were posted up on the pads cheering for him like crazy. When will we ever see another 39sec 500? Perhaps at one if the next world cups.
Our team is now off to Russia, where we will race at the olympic venue. It’s going to be an amazing experience and eye opening as well. After the Sochi World Cup we will fly to Dresden, Germany for World Cup 6.