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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Four Days To Go

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.

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Happy Valentines Day!

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The Wait Is Over

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

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2013 USANA Convention.

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Day 2 of racing

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Today it was snowing when I woke up! It is a complete change from the weather we were having. I didn’t think it would be snowing so soon. But, this is Canada and the cold is here to stay.
But anyway, back to the racing. Today was the semi’s for the 1500m. I had the chance to race against a couple of world champions as well (Victor Ahn and Yoon-gy Kwak). I skated to a new personal best in the 1500m, 2:12. I was just behind Yoon-gy with a Russian skater passing me on the last straight.
In my B final the racing was very aggressive. The race started out pretty calm, but exploded about half way through. I made my way to the front at 4 laps to go. With two laps to go I was passed in each straightaway by a Canadian and Japanese skater. After a slip up, I finished 6th.
The next race was the relay semi. We had some tough competition, but we were determined to make the A final. Just a couple exchanges into the race there was a crash. I did my best to get out to him (Kyle Carr) and make a tag. However, just after we made the exchange another skater collided with me and went to the inside of the blocks. We continued on to qualify for the A final! Only to find out that we were penalized for impeding the Kazakhstan skater.
On the positive side, our team made great improvements with our racing strategy and skill. We stayed in the race and fought our way back into qualifying position. We will have another chance to race the relay next week in Montreal.
The US also got its first medal from JR Celski in the 1000m. Hopefully we can get more medals tomorrow.

Here’s a quote from Travis Jayner

There are plenty more chances to race. Don’t be disappointed about this race, you guys made great improvements