Silver in Sochi

We knew our friends and family would be watching from home. We did it!

View our thoughts on our Olympic medal here, at the USA house

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sochi, we’re here!

The games are upon us.  When I arrived in Sochi I didn’t know what to expect. Now that I’ve seen everything, it is amazing and  beyond what I thought was possible.  Opening cerimonies are tomorrow and we are gearing up to walk as TEAM USA! Take a look at the Olympic village and keep in mind that I took these pictures a few days ago. 

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These are the apartments we are living in for the next two weeks.

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Short track and figure skating venue

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Opening cerimonies

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I have to say that these Olympics are going to be great. The venues are awesome, the food and facilties are up to my standards.  Actually the best part ofmy trip d so far has been using our team bikes. BMW donated bikes for the alleys use in the Olympic village. Each country had their own b bikes and it’s are the best I’ve seen.

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View from my apartment

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These pictures are just a hint of what Sochi is like. Please stay tuned for more posts coming soon.

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For more info on events and athletes please visit NBC Olympics

Time to do work

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

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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.

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Pre-season visits to LA and Co. Springs

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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