Zen and the Art of Speedskating

September 28, 2010

Caption This #3

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 1:00 pm

Fresh on the heels of my previous “Caption this” post, here is another; Images that just beg for the creativity of you, yes YOU, to add description to-

Picture #1

Picture #2

Picture #3

September 21, 2010

Caption This #2

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 2:57 pm

Some images just beg for words to be added to them, to explain what “is really is going on”: The first picture has to do with speedskating, the rest are just odd, I will leave suggestive captions up to your collected good minds:

Please leave your creative caption in the comments-

Picture #1

Picture #2

Picture #3

and you can see Caption This #1 here

February 5, 2010

Ice, Courage, and Friendship.

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 5:50 pm

Or, if you said this in Latin-
Glacies, Fortitudo, et Amicitia

That is the spirit of Masters Speedskating.

Illustrating that attitude, here is the USA masters team before the 2nd Masters sprint games, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Click on the picture for a bigger one. Matt Dinerstein will send me a much higher quality one shortly.

below is a list of all the USA athletes, not all of these are in this picture, as some are traveling at this moment.

Boris Leikin M55
Patricia Bohaty F40
Mike Anderson M40
Steven Desotell M55
Donna Eckert W50
Marian Furst W60
Gary Groen M60
Karri Kox W45
Anthony Christie M45
Andrew Love M35
Nat White M30
Martin Haire M45
Myron Yencha M45
Olusegun Sijuwade M50
Mark Nolan M55
Karen Verrone F50
Michael Hall M30
Tim Harris M55
Suzy Osum F45
Greg Oly M50
Chuck Osum M45
Bruce Conner M50
Marian Furst F50
Mark Nolan M55
Bill Armstrong M40
Jan Zurcher F55
Bruce Anderson M45
Jim White M65
Dan Greene M45
Chuck Hansell M60
Scott Nelson M50
Diane Crossfield F55
John Diemont M60
Verne Kappes M75
Dan Grant M45
Theron Sands M45
Tom Cole M45
Stephen Gunther M65
David Sutton M55
Roger Pozenik M45
Mark Yanagihara M35
Kathie Zapotocki F50
Carla Langenthal F35
Ken Huss M55
Glenn Corso M45
Matt Dinerstein M50

Here is a detail image of our t-shirt design-

wish us all luck tomorrow!

January 29, 2010

where have I been?

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 3:09 pm

20 days without a post? in the run up to the Olympics? whoa! Where have I been?

Here is what I have been devoting my time too, 2 MAJOR masters speedskating events!

here is the website I built to promote/support these events- mastersspeedskating.org.

As the USA rep to the IMSSC, I view it as my job to grow this sport, and I’ve worked my tail off in the past 16 months on these two events. This weekend in Salt Lake, 66 athletes from 10 nations are attending this event.

Next weekend in Milwaukee is the Masters Sprint Games. Skaters know it as the masters world championships, as that is what they really are, even thought the ISU will not grant masters speedskaters the same rights masters swimmers, cyclists, runners, and skiers have.

It’s an amazing experience to be a race organizer/volunteer. So many good people step up to the plate, and make events happen. I highly recommend it.

On the ice yesterday, the session was filled with Dutch, Russian, Norwegian, German, and Canadian masters athletes whizzing around.

Near the end of the session a HUGE man came up to me and said “hello, I am Vladamir, from Ruuusshia… 40-45 age grooouuup… how old youuu?”.

I smiled, so glad he was here, and thought of the moment when this race was just a proposal on my laptop, over a year ago.

Welcome to Canada

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 2:54 pm

one the wall of the Utah Olympic oval weight room, an article from the Wall Street Journal.

Chosen by the author to represent Canada in this article are Canadian Speedskaters Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes.

I take all of this pre-Olympic trash talking as seriously as what my brother and I do to each other before a night of air hockey at a bar. We are family, and that comes first.

And because we are family, we can push each other’s buttons, talk some serious smack about each other, end up the evening drunk & with bloody knuckles (David & I take our air hockey quite seriously) and these moments strangely re-enforce our brotherhood.

What can I say but men are strange.

The family of nations is equally strange & wonderful during the Olympic games. You can feel intense national pride one moment, chant USA! USA! USA! at the top of your lungs, and the next find yourself granting deep respect and admiration for athletes from all over the world.

You find yourself celebrating with them, after a moment earlier, cheering against them.

This WSJ article is an academic exercise for most people reading it. But for that tiny number of human beings who are USA Olympians, it’s a challenge to train hard, focus, and get ready…

Can you feel it? the Olympics are almost here.

39 at 39 at 39

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 2:31 pm

Some crazy ideas are good, some good ideas are crazy,

Some good ideas are simply good, and some crazy is just crazy.

On the day I turned 39, I tried to skate 39 laps at a 39 seconds a lap velocity.

That idea had a whole lot of good & crazy mixed in together.

For most of this experience, instead of thinking about fighting father time, I just suffered like a pig, and only saw Eric’s skates in front of me (he was skating 38!).

Eric’s supple skating style is much better at this kind of thing than my sprint-centric-flat-rocker push. It also does not help that as a sprinter, who never does more than 6 laps in a row, my back gave out about 15 laps in.

But through sheer crazy, we fought through it and finished. Ending up with a high 40 second average lap speed, Eric would have easily been under 39. But he finished with me.

Good friends are always there for you, especially when your good ideas are crazy, or turn crazy, or were crazy from the start, even when they are good things to do.

Does Eric look like a superhero? or am I crazy? or did I just lose some brain cells, or most of them, in those last few laps?

December 21, 2009

SLC world cup day 3

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 2:14 pm

(I just need to publish things before time gets out of hand.. This was half done a week ago… meh…)

Snowstorms, rain, horrid weather. I usually like racing and watching in epic nastiness. But this was so bad, everyone was grateful for the indoors. Here is Wang Beixing throwing down the fastest women’s opening 200m EVER. She uses her leg legth for super long pushes & leverage on the ice.

She ended up second overall to Christine Nesbitt.. The Canadian women have their phasers set on ANNIHILATE this year, and I think also some of the best looking skinsuits on the world cup circuit.

Kyle Parrot ripping out a great world cup race. He has improved a lot over the past few years. I met him in Calgary the summer of 2002, my first time at an indoor track. We were close to the same speed back then.

The weird thing about that camp, all those years ago, was also there was superfast Canadian Nicole Garrido, and Ashlee Barnett, who also is skating at the top level in the USA, and does a good amount of childcare for Jess & I. Small world.

Jeremy Wotherspoorn, ripping a 1000m. He has skated some of the most brilliant races I have ever seen in person… Jer, many of us in the Speedskating world are cheering for you. I have chatted with him a few times, this is such a nice guy…

Trevor Marsicano struggling at speed, he did the exact same thing in this high speed corner last year when he was only the second human being ever to skate under 1:07. It’s hard to control a 24-second lap!

Contrasting styles of the uber-smooth “catman” 1998 world sprint champ Jan Bos, and the fighting style of Chad Hedrick… Jan is flowing in his skating, and Chad just fights like crazy. But I have always pointed out that when you slo-mo these top athletes, or just see static images, you can see that their essentials, like push direction, are always perfect. Push direction is what counts.

I think they have named a flower after Jan Bos, it’s a dutch Hyacinth. Here is how it is described, and a direct link. This sounds like a speedskater to me.

The elegant flowers are as fade-resistant as they are beautiful. Grow them outdoors or indoors for their graceful shape, long-lasting blooms and sweet scent. Hyacinths are great for indoor forcing–

But when talking about the 1000, one must talk about Shani. Here is his knee bend angle, torso lifting, push direction. laps 1, 2, 3. Perfection matched to power.

So Reggie Jackson has a candy bar, Jan Bos a flower. What does Shani deserve? I think a car. The “Davis Special”.

Team Pursuit

The US women were on the verge of NOT qualifying for the Olympics, as only the top 6 teams in the world get to go. Here they are, watching the top Dutch team fly by after they have already raced.

They did just manage to BARELY sneak in. Yay!

I’ve talked a lot about the youth movement in American speedskating, and how there are many incredibly talented skaters under 23 years old. These young men skating the team pursuit are a bright part of the the future, Brian Hansen, Trevor Marsicano, and Jonathan Kuck.

After every O-games cycle, there is endless bellyaching when the stars retire. But this time, no matter the results in Vancouver, there is so much reason to be optimistic for a very, very long time.

December 19, 2009

Light

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 11:01 pm

Low angle winter sunlight slanting into the Utah Oval…

It is two things, it is a photographers dream, and also really quite distracting blasting your eyes for a dazzling second during the last turn of a 500m. It really weirded me out.

Here is a recent short track convert, Joey Lindsey, who is really flying on the long track these days. Videoing him is Don Nelson. They have inline-to-ice programs, but what they really need is short track to long track!

These are the last races before trials, and everyone has an air of expectation. These races really don’t mean something in themselves, they are all to fine tune the body for next week.

Pat Meek, flashing through the light puddle at 31mph (many 29 second laps in a 3k, click on the image for desktop worthy one)


Becky Lang, moving so fast during that perfect moment of sprint velocity, I missed the moment.

But I got this picture, just after her finish, there is something just insane about Becky’s leg/waist ratio here. I showed her this picture, and said “of course I wouldn’t publish it”. She said “why not! You should!”

She powerlifts when she’s not skating. This is one strong lady.

Roger Schneider of Switzerland has already punched his ticket to the Olympic Games in the 5,000m, and this Swiss national record holder is in Salt Lake for some training & racing

He asked me to take some images/portraits of him for a sponsor’s website, just as he was posing, the power in the oval went off. It was fantastic lighting. I love the fact that you can still see the 5,000m effort in his face.

The light patch was really wonderful, Dad this picture is for you.

Keith Carney, a battered skinsuit, and a determined man, driving hard through the turns.

I raced ok in my own 500 & 1000. I’m a skating robot sometimes, the same times over and over. But its ok. When I come home to take a walk with a smile like my daughter RZ has, lap times & speedskating seem so far away, so small, and I am a puddle of light when she smiles at me wearing her N.Y. Mets hat.

December 7, 2009

Moment in 3 parts–

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 2:18 pm

Is it the sweet-sharp moment of anticipation that makes skating so addictive?

Those intense feelings before a race, fear and confidence wresting within your heart… or that moment during a tempo workout that demands maximum focus before you must GO!!! (I’m just off camera on the backstretch, building speed into a timed 800m all out effort).

Or is it the moment of actually doing it? The sensation of speed, complete absorption, that weird blend of intensity-power-relaxation-flow that is essential to a good speedskating push. (I am about half-way through, just trying to skate “narrow” & drive the knees as the body slowly crumbles into a lactic fireball)

Or is it that moment of finishing? crossing the timing line and looking to the scoreboard, or your coach, for stopwatch & technical approval, for that number to weigh against your self esteem (27.7, 29.5 were my splits, best so far this year. I was dry heaving for about 5 minutes afterwards).

Or do we do it for the afterglow of effort?

That return to “normal” society & walking around with those fires still smoldering, the afterburn of what we just did still in shaky legs that complain when you stand up, walk, & most people have not the slightest clue.

It’s addictive, like speedskaters are part of some secret society. This membership is not something you can buy, or bribe, inherit from a long lost uncle or find on eBay.

It’s earned, and re-earned, savored, cherished, resented, loved, and those moments of anticipation, doing, suffering, remembering, are never forgotten.

excuse me, but I need to go skate now…

December 2, 2009

Turbulence

Filed under: from the coffee shop — andrew @ 9:37 pm

Pictured below- a slice of bacon and a doughnut that was handed to me by Chris, of Dharma Wheels Cyclery, during a recent cyclocross race. Weirdness like this is totally in the spirit of ‘cross. I stuffed them in my skinsuit mid-race, and wolfed them down after the finish- completely satisfied in mind, body, & soul.

The fast twitch muscle fibers that make me a good sprint speedskater makes me a mediocre cyclocrosser; but I don’t care, it’s so much fun.

Note in the background of the above picture the bent angle of my saddle. My rear wheel was also so smashed up, it barely made it through the frame.

It’s refreshing to not care where I finish. I get far more worked up & focused/worried about an 800m tempo than 40 minutes of max bike effort. It’s enough just to go out into the woods & mash about, to suffer on something more varied than the frozen hamster wheel. It feels like freedom.

My absence has not just been just from writing here, people have been asking me/emailing me about where I am- friends at the oval ask “are you ok”. It is completely normal for speedskaters to have a November slump.

However, what I am experiencing is severe life turbulence, even though I am fine.

Being a deeply involved dad & a professional at my job is hugely important to me. I train when I can, but just realized I have not been able to train hard enough to really need a true rest week since July, and that was hugely depressing.

I remember reading a quote from Bjorn Daehlie, the best XC ski racer of all time, basically saying “you need to make sure your skiing and training commitments always come first”. For years of my life, that is how I lived, I was 100% committed to skating.

However, those times are over, and they pale with moment like RZ saying her first word a few days ago (just to me, she won’t say it to anyone else). Her first word was not mom, or dad, it was TEETH!!!

She loves teeth, and is always poking her hand in my mouth to grab mine. My racing gets a bit slower every year, I’m fading into the back of the pack at local cyclocross races, but other things are filling me up with so much joy.

I will keep writing when I can, it’s Olympic year after all!

Writing this down makes me feel better about it too… But I still hate what the stopwatch/electronic eye says about me when they pronounce judgement on a skating effort.

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