Zen and the Art of Speedskating

January 13, 2011

Shadow

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 10:14 pm

a nice reflection during one of my 500m races during the 1st USA Masters Single Distance Championships.

I like this photo. Steve Penland took the original. It’s just how life feels now. A snapshot, reflection. Stuff is going on.

Need… Sleep..

September 23, 2010

BikeOrchestra

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 8:35 pm

Yaknow this song. Pick up your instrument!

Startin easy, noodling the notes & getting in tune with heart & breathing… Finding well practiced frets in your muscles & joints.

Carbon fiber shiny aluminum glinting across tuned strings of men-

beginning to thrumm out through stanzas of road, measures of climbs, bass clef of earth, treble clef of sun.

Packa hungry cyclists finding its inner band, it’s cohesion, swing band, jazz band, Rock! Symphony of this right now.

Big gears turning windsound earfuls of noise.

Best instrument? The human heart drum drum drum endless big mallet Taiko grim faced drummer your life in that thunking speaking hollow bell ker-pow-pow-boom!

Music hiss tires and the speed builds, shadows & legs moving sync piano run of the peloton, fingers on gearshift levers / flute keys french horn Allez! Allez! Allez!.

Tires in the pack clustered arpeggios of movement. Echelons of notes, drive that gear & don’t drop the tempo!

Sheet music of asphalt, relentless rippled grey pages.

Graceful arcs of carbon, double-note outlines of muscle, chain and cable in tune, geartooth songtooth muscledrum.

Roar of blood barely contained by arteries saxophone wide open.

All lined out in hardsong, world dissolves to that one tire waving in tunnel vision of crescendo,

15 cog, 14, clack, 13! Whirr, 12 wirrr— 11??? what are you made of? Can you really play?

The one trumpet, vibrato velocity, as the music moves & you move, chasing & leading.

Willpower– there is the microphone and so pull through. So sing! Sing! ya bike rider with every note in your body! sing! roadsong is the bestsong,

Sing! that one long uptempo vowel of cyclesong…


Thanks Glen-Josh-Samuel-Brett-Brent-Rick for playing in the band/ride today. It was awesome.

September 19, 2010

Reach in. Have a drink. Stay.

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 10:06 pm

A picture I took with a camera that was handed to me; at a party celebrating a friends 10th wedding anniversary.

Fresh pressed tablecloth, the cluster of candles & flow of light. Wine as crisp and red and flavorful as the picture suggests.

Intersections; angles of seams pressed in cloth.

Reach in. Have a drink. Stay.

The two women off camera right, one of them was the owner of that glass of wine (nothing here is staged).

They were in their late 30’s / early 40’s. Educated, probably professionals of some type, or married to professionals.

Moms for sure. But able to still dress up & be mistaken for younger, unless you listen to their voices.

You can hear maturity as surely as you can feel an elevator shoot you helplessly upwards through a high-rise. 21st floor, 30th floor, 40th floor… Ding…. welcome to right now.

But yes, back to the wine.

When I was handed the camera, I felt awake again in a strange way. I kept firing off pictures in hopelessly low light conditions.

The pictures/pixels were unimportant, but looking at things somehow mattered again. Listening mattered. The conversation & the crowd on the dance floor- mattered.

I’ve never written a goodbye post here, even as other responsibilities have crushed/overwhelmed the time I used to spend blogging.

Overwhelmed by tiredness, overwhelmed by work/dad/life- sleep was all that mattered. But RZ has been sleeping though the night for the past month.

and I think I might be waking up again.

March 17, 2010

Season’s End

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 4:48 pm

How does that saying go? It’s not over till the fat lady sings? I have an addition to that saying, specific to speedskating.

“The season is not over till Mahoney slides”

I’ve seen Charlie do this to ceremonially end the season a couple of times. He gave himself some pretty nice iceburn on his back. At least he is already a medical professional.

His skills were unfortunately needed at the Champions Challenge this year, as top athlete Kelly Gunther had a horrible crash, one of the worst seen on the long track at the Utah oval in a very long time.

She snapped her leg in multiple places, and is going to have a very long recovery. So many of us wish her a speedy recovery.

Many of the SLC crowd ended their season here. I ended my season the moment I stepped off the ice in Baselga three weeks earlier. I won’t lie, it’s been a hard year.

Two disappointing ice seasons in a row now.

There certainly were some good things that happened this year; but when it comes to me vs. myself, I’m not satisfied.

Speedskating is such a brutally difficult sport, if you are not making clear progress, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

However, so many other good things are happening, I am at peace. Things like this–

RZ is on a kickbike here. It has no pedals, and so she can walk along with her feet on the ground. Eventually she will figure out that she can pick up her feet and coast along after a good strong kick.

Most kids who learn on a kickbike never need training wheels.

Daddy is very proud.

Ice… SchmIce… my daughter has a BIKE!!!!

December 26, 2009

Byyyyyyyyossudux

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 5:03 pm

Byyyyyyyyossuduxhdhdzdddddhdhh hhdhx x ≈ xx x

j hr4fg gmkbvf5ee

‘’;;;;;.
Hhhh,,,j

…..liy b bffffffffcx fxxxxxxxccuflufuzflulz

77

(This was Rz’s first blog post, complete with links she inserted… I think this is written in some secret code that only toddlers understand)

December 18, 2009

Shane Dobbin 4-pic

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 5:54 pm

here we have 4 time inline world champion, New Zealander Shane Dobbin, rocking it on the ice, skating a new personal best, and I believe qualifying (or getting very close) for the O-games. This is during the recent SLC world cup.

I have been talking about the “ugly but essential” moment in the crossover push, and how so often skaters and coaches are looking at the wrong thing. It’s so tempting to look at beautiful extension, and assume that is what creates speed.

This is part of that moment, it’s that placedown of the left foot, and creating pressure immediately-

Thanks to Kim Kraan for this fascinating picture.

December 17, 2009

Some days…

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 10:58 am

Some days feel like they need a superhero to give you the thumbs up. Sometimes human effort seems not enough.

The Blue Demon has appeared at the Utah oval before. Especially here & here-

Small sport athletes need that sometimes, to have that tiny moment of superhero recognition commensurate with what this sport demands. With the Olympics at hand, it’s good to feel the world’s attention suddenly revolving towards our microscopic sport.

It’s a blowtorch of love, of appreciation. You don’t have to be an Olympic caliber skater to feel it.

I am no superhero, no Olympian is a superhero. In fact superheros don’t exist. As I get older, it seems that the courage to keep on keeping on through the rough patches of everyday life, with nothing but mortal strength, becomes more & more impressive.

A senior producer from the Colbert Report emailed me. They need someone with experience filming while skating. What they are doing with skating is pretty amazing, and very 21st century. It did feel, for a brief moment, like some weird kind of Superhero thumbs up!

October 17, 2009

Dear Microsoft, 2010 USA blogging team!

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 1:42 pm

Dear Microsoft

I am truly excited about entering your blog contest, offering 2 bloggers the chance to be on the 2010 Vancouver USA blogging team, and report live from the Vancouver winter Olympic games-

http://www.officewintergames.com/

For some reason, your contest stipulates that the bloggers must be either an enrolled university student, or female,. However according to www.genderanalyzer.com, this website is written by a 60% verified woman.

Given that the IOC is has terrible difficulty measuring the boundary line between a woman and man (see the current case of runner Caster Semenya) and frankly, always has, I consider that this digital DNA test of my words to be blogosphere-certified proof that I qualify for your contest.

Here are some reasons you should add me to the 2010 USA Blogging team-

  • This blog will crack a million page views this year, with 700-1000 readers a day. I did this covering a microscopic sport in terms of raw participants
  • I am an extremely productive blogger, over 700 posts so far, you will get loads of content from me. Content is King.
  • As a 2 time Olympic trials competitor, I am no armchair quarterback. I deeply understand what these athletes go through, and do my best to show the unwritten story of their world
  • I ran the daily updates of Chad Hedricks’ website during the 2006 Torino Games, and it won the Macromedia site of the day.
  • I know most of the US Speedskating Olympic team, and am honored to call many of these unique individuals friends. Many international athletes have visited my website as well.
  • Triple threat: Words, images, and video. I rock all 3 in the Blogosphere.
  • I’ve LIVED winter sports my whole life, first hockey, then XC ski racing, and the last 8 years as a national caliber Speedskater.
  • I work like a sled dog with an espresso problem.


You ask for some links to my work, here is a selection of interviews I’ve done, with some of the USA’s best-

Katherine Reutter
Jennifer Rodriguez (Interview #1, and then Interview #2)
Trevor Marsicano
Chris Witty
Joey Cheek
Kip Carpenter

You also require 2 social media links:

#1 Here is my Youtube channel, 273,000 views so far, add another 100,000-ish from the high quality quicktime versions I host.
#2 is Facebook, this is really more personal, but I do have fun there.

-Andrea Love

P.S. Your judge Bonnie Blair & I do know each other in the “two dozen conversations” kind of way, so you should probably disqualify me on those grounds alone. Even so, you would be absolutely nuts not to invite me along as a member of the 2010 Vancouver Blogging team.

I promise you posts that will leave computer screens steaming with stories that need to be told, moments that generate digital buzz like a jar full of wasps.

P.P.S If it weren’t for Microsoft spell check, I’d be screwed. I owe a beer to the Microsoft word development team.

September 28, 2009

DEAR USA MASTERS

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 9:34 pm

I wanted to write a whole lot of you at once. I have over 100 of you on an email list, and you represent the core of active masters speedskaters racing in the USA.

I’ve surely missed people though, I’m just one person, so PLEASE forward this around– it’s important.

1. Marty Haire is organizing a purchase of some really FAST long track Skinsuits, with USA MASTERS printed on them. These will be the equal of the Nike Swift Skin. Contact Marty !!immediately!! if you want to be part of our group order, at isk82fast@yahoo.com

2. My main reason for writing is to let you know what you will need this fast skinsuit for. Two INCREDIBLY exciting events will be happening this year, absolutely unprecedented in USA masters racing-

3. For the first time, the International Masters Sprint Speedskating Games, (the true Masters Sprint World Champs) will be coming to the USA. They will be held at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee, February 6th & 7th. It will be a true 500-1000-500-1000 Metric meet.

4. We expect about 100 European masters will be making the trip to this. Dutch, Germans, Norwegians, Finns, Russians, Swiss, as well as our Canadian buddies from across the border. It will be an unforgettable experience. A world-cup style event for working folks.

5. The Europeans asked for an event in Salt Lake City as well- so the weekend previous, January 30-31st, there will be an International Masters meet in Salt Lake City. A short allaround (500-1000-1500-3000), as well as a sprint classification. We have been promised fast ice, and the Masters records book will be re-written. Be part of that.

6. At International Masters events, about half of the athletes are really serious. The other half are there to have fun, experience some international fellowship/partying, and do something they love deeply. It’s the best kind of Speedskating, as everyone is welcome, skate these events, and you will come away with friends from all over the world. The language most Europeans use to communicate with each other is English, so it’s easy to chat, and we all have a common shared passion.

7. Registrations for these events will open the first week in October at http://www.imssc.org/index1.html, For worlds, it closes December 10th, for SLC, January 9th. Worlds has a registration limit of 40 Americans, but I am hopeful most wait-listed skaters will be able to compete. It will be a 200 skater meet! SLC has no registration limit. Register early, and train hard!

8. If you are in Milwaukee or SLC and want to help with the meet, send me an email, we can always use volunteers. LOTS to do.

9. The Executive Director of US speedskating, Bob Crowley, once asked me: “Andrew, what do Masters want?”.

Hard question. Masters are 39% of US Speedskating’s membership, there are at least 800 of us, and ZERO percent of their budget. If you want to help me answer Bob’s question, and increase our visibility within the organization, email me privately, and be part of a group recommendation to him. I made a few proposals to US Speedskating this past spring, and the board was bewildered and tabled them. More voices than just me stands a better chance.

10. I’ve seen many international examples of how National associations work with their own Masters . Some are very good, others quite dysfunctional. We have allies within US Speedskating if we can articulate our needs, and back our ideas up with some political weight of numbers.

11. This is a pivotal time for Masters Speedskating in the USA. We need to be recognized/organized the way cyclists, swimmers, track & triathlete Masters athletes are, and the way many European Master Skaters are. I hope to take the first steps with you. Quality events are crucial. Then comes other things

12. Thanks for reading..

-Andrew Love
USA Rep to the IMSSC

Huge thanks my IMSSC deputy, Martin Haire, who was instrumental in getting us the Masters International Sprint Speedskating games this year at the annual meeting in Bjugn, Norway. Thanks Marty!!

p.s. If you want a taste of what Masters Worlds will be like, Here are 2 videos I have done from these events. This is what they “feel” like.

2008 Erfurt Masters Allaround Worlds

High quality quicktime

2007 Calgary Masters Allaround Worlds
High quality quicktime

September 27, 2009

Wisconsin

Filed under: from home — andrew @ 8:54 pm

The hidden gift (and expense) of Speedskating is travel, You must travel to train and race, and in those travels you fall in love with unique parts of the world you would never otherwise have visited. This sunset welcomed me on the drive from Green Bay to Milwaukee. Over the years, I’ve come to love Wisconsin.

Endless farms, rolling hills, and trees hinting at fall’s palette eventually gives way to urban Milwaukee, and that can only mean the Pettit national ice center. A cold place that has scorching hot skating on race days.

Here is Brent Aussprung, opening a 500m in 9.9,and then the exact same spot on the track about 25 seconds later.

I love the body position similarities & differences between 30 meters into a race, and 430 meters… Brent is just on fire right now, there is much to learn from this 4th degree black belt— umm, I mean world-class sprinter. But really, is it not the same level of effort? Precision? Lifetime of dedication?

However the performance many people said “did you hear about—“ was the previous weekend. Jonathan Kuck broke the 3,000m Pettit rink record, averaging 29.64 mph for this just over 2 mile race.

What is notable about Jon’s race is that it was not an especially fast ice day, and he told me he was under a big training load & his legs felt heavy. Wow.

This is Jon himself, quite happy.

He’s a physics major– I wonder if that changes how he looks at skating, compared to liberal arts/english majors like myself?

Although the 3000m is a race elite men rarely do, contemplate for a moment the studs who have held this rink record. Gianni Romme, Derek Parra, Trevor Marsicano, and now Jonathan. That is some “heavy medal” company.

There is a youth movement going on right now in Speedskating, and it’s great. Although I do not know the route Jonathan took to get where he is, it seems that many elite long trackers are coming from grass roots short track.

It’s absolutely appropriate that the USOC dumped a nice chunk of change into the inline-to-ice program. Look for athletes anywhere you can find them. But how about a short track to long track program? THOSE seem to be very fertile fields.

I was in Wisconsin for a wedding though, skating was just combining family & fun. My dear cousin Mike Snow married his best friend Stacy.

I will not bore you with details, but the emotional effect of a great wedding is like that moment during a long drive, when the sun bursts through the clouds & fills the world with wonder, and you wish you could stop the car, get out, and never leave this spot, this perfect right now.

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