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.
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.
After traveling to Japan, adjusting to time zones and tough training- it’s that time again. World Team qualifiers start in 5 days in Salt Lake. It has been a bit of a struggle to get to this point, but I’m healthy and ready to go for these trials. It will start off with two time trials, 1500m, 500m, 1000m and finish with the 3,000m. The racing starts Thursday so be sure to look for updates or live feed. Oh, and it also Christmas time again; I hope you all are getting your Xmas shopping done early.
This week has been a little tough on all fronts. It started off with getting my passport renewed for the upcoming world cups. I had a doctors appointment to get my staples removed from my shin. Followed by two-a-days on the ice (two ice sessions, morning and afternoon) and more training. We never got a break in our training because of the competition. Also, many people have been getting sick at the oval and are continuing to train. It’s a tough task training your body to be at peak performance. But it’s the life of a speed-skater and that is to be expected.
Last world cup I had a little incident. The 1500m B final was pretty stacked with a lot of good skaters. As I made a pass on the outside with 4 laps to go, I was kicked in the shin. The blade bounced off my shin guard and went underneath it somehow. When all was said and done, I finished the race with a hole in my leg. With all the adrenaline, I didn’t really feel any pain in my shin. My mom will be pleased to hear that the doctors did a great job disinfecting and treating the wound. But the man who put in the staples didn’t have much experience and had to redo one of them.
The good news is my shin healed up nicely. There were no complications and there should be no bad scaring. The blade went in next to the shin bone, so it didn’t actually hit the bone. To top it all off, my skinsuit wasn’t even scratched! I also had cut-proof Kevlar underneath my skinsuit, also unscratched. You would think they would have holes in them from the blade. I’ll spare you the image of the actual cut, ah what the heck!
There are also a few good treats that I left Nagoya with. I failed to post a few of the sushi photos I took. Feast your eyes on this…
Tip of the day: leaving a tip after a meal, cab tide, or personal care is considered insulting. If you decide to tip, they will say, “no thank you.” And then bow.
It’s the end of day 2, and I haven’t posted any results. We raced from 8 am to 6pm the first day, which made blogging basically impossible.
My races were the 1000m and 1500m, I raced the preliminaries for those races on Friday. Jr Celski and John-Henry were also in these races. I made the 1500 semi, but my 1000 didn’t go as well since I was disqualified for impeding a Hungarian skater. The race I skating semi-finals in (1500m) was great. I made an outside pass with 3 laps to go and took third qualifying spot.
The races have been very close and slower than usual. In Calgary, the 500m times were 40sec. Here the times are 42sec. In each heat there is always an incident with bumping or crashing since everyone is experiencing the bad ice conditions.
So far Jr is the only US skated to bring home a medal, silver in the 1000m. He skated against Victor Ahn and made an aggressive pass to the the front. But after the pack caught up to him, the scrapping for position moved Ahn up to first place. In some situations, being fearless is the best bet. And in this case, making a late inside pass at the first block (from fourth to first) was the best bet.
The relay has been a really tough race for us this season. I believe Murphy’s law definitely applies here, and should never be ignored. In what was usually a routine pass, we were penalized for impeding a Kazakhstan skater. When you mix crazy speeds, sore legs and terrible ice conditions it can be volatile.
I’ll finish this post with a few pics I took yesterday. My favorite is the picture with a man standing on the outside of the 3rd floor on the ledge cleaning windows. Can you see him in the picture?