Video of Chad’s 1500m

I produced this for Chad Hedrick's web site, from my own hand held camera shots.. I might as well post it here too.

During today's 1500m, Chad Hedrick was paired with fast starter Joey Cheek, Chad chased him down, and came within .02 of his own world record.

There is a really emotional scene after the races, where Chad & Derek Parra congratulate each other, Derek also skated a tremendous 1500m, and qualified for the Olympics despite all the odds against him (he has been going through a lot recently). In the shot are their two coaches, Scott Koons and Bart Schouten.

Olympic Trials, Impressions from day 1 & 2

An athlete must, at times, be completely self-centered in order to maximize their performance. This is especially true in a sport like long track speed skating, that is completely individual, just you vs the clock.

At moments, over the last few days, I did remove myself from my haze of self-centered-ness, and watched some of the amazing efforts & struggles of Olympic trials. My Brother and my wife took many videos, and these pictures are from them.

You can find the results of the races here, But this blog is not a results page, this is my impressionistic take on these few days.

Here is the cool poster advertising Olympic Trials. This picture does crop out the dates to the left and the complete list of sponsors below.

Like many US speedskating advertising efforts, it’s a mix of brilliant and stupid. First of all, the graphic is stunning, but the words “Olympic Trials” were completely missing from the poster!!! (p.s. note, see steph’s comment for the possible reason why this is missing, it makes sense) Also missing were some of the “marquee names” racing in this event. Where is mention of Fitzrandolph? Parra? Witty? Rodriguez? Hedrick? This is what will draw the public to come watch the races. Why not put 1,000 people in the stands, instead of a hundred or two? Aren’t US speedskating’s sponsors paying for “media/public awareness”??

There are maybe a dozen of these hung around the oval. They appeared roughly 3 days before Olympic trials. Why weren’t these hung in every supermarket events board & sporting goods shop in town? Most local classic rock cover bands know better how to promote their shows than this!

Even so, There were actually a some people at the oval Tuesday morning for the first day of races. I could actually hear the cheering as I was racing.

Marco Bucci’s first 500m was his fastest of the season so far, here he is paired with Michael Stein about 30 meters into it. Marco has a habit, like myself and many ex-hockey players, of sometimes swinging his arms like he still is holding that hockey stick in his hands, he controls it nicely here. Good knee drive too. The second photo is marco in exactly the same spot on the track, 400 meters later.

Like in 2002, Eva Rodansky is one placing away from making the Olympic team, here she is driving to the finish of a 500m a bit ahead of multiple short track Olympian Erin Porter. This picture shows great technique from two great skaters, in very closely related moments.

KC Boutiette and Chad Hedrick have competed with & against each other for years on wheels, now they are 2 of the best ice guys in the world, and Chad could come home from Torino with several medals. Here they are in a 500m, Chad on the inner, KC on the outer. Once up to top speed on skates, you have to drive your body forward, while also pushing to the side, it’s a really hard trick to master. In this second pic angle, you clearly see two masters doing it exceptionally well.

500m Gold medalist Casey Fitzrandolph and 500m Bronze medalist Kip Carpenter. No matter if you do a traditional standing start or a down start with one hand on the ice, the goal is the same, to drive off the line powerfully, and to position the shoulders and hips in their proper position for the first 100m. Note that these two skating studs come to identical positions within the very first step

Carla Langenthal skated, in the words of Bob Fenn “the best he has seen her skate in 2 years!” I pretty much agree, Her 3k was great, and she missed a top 10 placing by a whisker. That’s her coach & Zen 10 Interview Victim Dave Tamburino standing in the background.

My brother-by-another-mother Kirk has a great pain face, here he is, in the last step of a teriffic 5000m effort, and a new personal best for him by 6 seconds. He can die a happy man now, or at least go golfing for the next decade without guilt.

Here is Chad and Derek in the 1000m, Derek losing balance in the corner a bit, yet even with this hand down moment, Derek skated a 25.87 lap, incredible. After the 1000’s were over, the margin between Chad Hedrick and 1st place finisher Nick Pearson in the was by the smallest measurable amount, .01 seconds.

Coach Boris appeared in the national media! His picture briefly was on the home page of, and several mentions were made in the media of his age and the other older skater in the race, 49 year old Bruce Conner. Boris was flattered, but what he REALLY cared about was that this race was an all time PB by about a half second! 38.24! An excellent time not just for an older man, but for ANY man.

Olympic Trials, Day 2

This is the inside lining of my superfast racing skinsuit. Like practically every skater who is competing at Olympic trials, I would not be standing at the start line without support (emotionally and otherwise) from my family and friends. I asked my family to write their names on the inside of my racing suit, to make it even more explicit that they are with me every step of the way.

After a sweaty day at the races wearing this unbreathing, vinyl sock, I now have vague wordy shaped blue blotches my chest and back!! Ha!

However, I felt like it brought me luck today. 600 meters into my 1000m race today, I was in a ton of pain, and was struggling with my corner technique at top speed. At that moment, I was .2 slower than my former personal best race. Hitting the final backstretch, at that precise place in the 1000m when my legs usually lock up from the lactic acid burn, I felt myself accelerating the straightaway with a new reserve of speed. My whole family was making tons of noise right there on that final corner, and I skated the fastest final lap of my life, and set a new personal best, 1:14.47, .6 faster than ever before.

Here I am, about 25 meters to go. Still driving, and feeling the “big ouch!”

I had to look at the scoreboard a few times, to really mentally connect a 1:14.47 to my name! I have improved my 1000m by 2.6 seconds from my fastest of last year.

I was really happy, I slowed down and coasted/staggered back to the part of the rink where my family was. I saw them celebrating & dancing around as the announcer mentioned it was a new PB for me. Seeing their joy, my own feelings just about completely overwhelmed me.

An Olympic medalist once told me that the most emotional part of actually standing on the medal stand, and getting that medal hung around his neck, was seeing his mother’s face in the crowd, and seeing what it meant to her.

I think I understand that comment now, even though no one hung anything on me. I don’t really care in some absolute sense that I finished 21st of the 29 skaters who dared the lactic rites of the 1000m (and there was some serious pain out there today). What I care about is the joy in my family, and that I can look in the mirror and say to myself that during Olympic trials I went faster than I have ever gone before.

Sure, It would have been nice to PB in my “best” event yesterday, but live, learn, celebrate with loved ones when you can, and always forge onward!

Olympic Trials, Day 1

To make a painful story short, things did not turn out the way I wanted. I had something of an off day on the day it mattered, both technically and physically. I have skated extremely well this past month, and all signs pointed in the right direction, but today was just not my day.

In the first 500m, I was going very well until a slip in the final corner. I lost a lot of speed, and ended up with 37.08 (another!) and finished 15th of 34 skaters. In the second one, again I was on pace for a sub-37 race, until the final corner, stumbled a bit, and skated 37.10, 15th of 44.

Maybe it was nerves, all my emotional sensors were certainly experiencing complete overload. The last several days have been just getting through the hours until it was time to race.

It hurts to feel like I failed at something I have thrown everything into being really good at. But this is what happens when you leap headfirst into a competitive arena, with a whole busload of extremely talented people who all want the same thing really badly. Someone wins, but most lose. What really hurts though, is not that I lost vs other people, but that I did not skate well vs myself.

However, there is so much that is still good, my friends, my family, this path I have taken has been very rewarding in many respects. The season is not over, tomorrow I skate a 1000m race, and there is still a lot left in the season after that.

Also my family was certainly the loudest, and best dressed cheering section in the stands (yes, they made t-shirts! the text on them says “love on ice is counter-clockwise”). They are all wonderful, and they matter far more than merely skating fast in a circle.

But it would be a lie to say that I am not upset. It hurts to write this. 15th of 44 in a race at Olympic trials.. hmmm, I should be happier about that than I am.

I have more to write, about Boris’s huge PB, and who made the Olympic team, but I am really tired.. more tomorrow…

Giving Thanks

I need to go to bed, its late. Tomorrow is THE DAY. My body knows what to do, my final race-prep workout was great, now I just have to quiet down my mind, and let the body relax and get on with business. Its just a race… just a few seconds on an oddly shaped frozen patch of ground. It means… nothing.. everything..

All of my faults are still my own, as for the things I do well, here are the people who truly deserve a thanks!!!

The coaches who have worked with me over the years: Pat Kelly, Bob Fenn, and especially Boris Leikin.

My Sponsors, who believe in me: Frank Day and Andrew Weber at PowerCranks, John Dimon at Dimon Sports, and Jay Guyot at Athlete Octane.

The really good guys on the men’s national sprint team.

My wonderful friends, both on and off the ice….

My supercool in-laws, Peg & Lore. Why are people scared of in-laws when it’s possible to have two amazing people like this as family? Peg just gave me a hug, and said “No matter what happens tomorrow, you have won already”.

My Mom & Dad, who always encouraged their son to follow his passions, and also set great examples in pursuing their own.

My brother, who never hesitates to remind me of my proper miniscule place in the universe (especially compared to him).

And finally, Jessica….. Ti amo, cara mia.

And of course, all you who are reading here… When I step to the start line, I will not be alone, and you all have played a part in that, truly. There have been many days when I have been down, dispirited, exhausted, and a comment or a private email will turn things around in my heart.

again, thanks…

Oquirrh Sunrise

This picture is the sunrise lighting up the sky over the Oquirrh Mountains, at about 7am Christmas Morning; the Utah Olympic oval is actually just to the left of this view from my bedroom window.

There is something special about this hour, the odd hours, those small pre-dawn moments during major holidays. So many times I have been traveling at this hour, on many occasions arriving home as dawn was breaking; having just driven the 27-hour caffeine fueled plunge straight from my former home in Colorado to my parents in New York.

This year my family came to me, to cheer me on at Olympic trials. I feel so lucky, so loved; my brother drove 1,200 miles from Texas, 980 of that in one day.

Wherever you are, dear reader, I hope your holiday was full of sweet emotion, that travel was safe for you and your loved ones, and that the mountain ranges of your life are lit with sunrise.

Nerves & Joey

Even though I have been skating VERY well recently, off the ice I have become quite anxious about the upcoming Olympic trials. Almost reaching that mythical state of “worried sick”. I don’t listen to music anymore driving to workouts, if certain songs come on, it feeds the butterflies in my stomach, and they start acting up.

If you have ever met me in person, you know I talk a lot (and that’s an understatement), but when I am truly deeply upset, oddly enough I submerge & don’t say anything, and if I must speak, it’s in a monosyllabic whisper. In fact, last night, I was stressing out so badly, I even went stone cold silent on Jessica, she is a trooper for putting up with me.

A few days ago, Olympic bronze medalist Joey Cheek told me a story about one of his own experiences with pre-race nerves. It made me laugh at the time, and still does, humor can be a powerful antidote to stress..

At practice today, I asked him to repeat the story for all of you.

Take it away, Joey!

Hello World! (again)

Who would have thought that racing 2 500m races, a bit over a minute of total work, could make a person “stuck to the floor tired”! But that is how I feel this morning (where is my coffee?? ugh!).

In racing yesterday, I was paired with good guy & Milwaukee skater Kirk Olson. He is a former division I hockey player, and dragsters the first 100m of a 500m race in a world class 9.9. I had a good start, but Kirk just crushed me off the line, and was a loooong way ahead exiting the first turn, but in my backstretch (pictured here) I began to catch him, and my final inner turn was super solid.

I exited the final turn half a step ahead, and we raced shoulder to shoulder all the way to the finish, and I arrived first by .01!! (roughly 1.3cm difference)!! I have now skated about 6 500m races that are all under 37.2, but I have not cracked into 36!! The results of this weekends races are here.

This race was another tiny improvement in my personal best, by .02 of a second, 37.06, and that makes me happy, even if that 36 barrier continues to dance just out of reach. I feel as prepared as I can be for trials, I am skating well technically and physically, in practice a few days ago I skated my fastest lap ever, 26.14.

The work I need to do between now and Olympic trials is all psychological & making sure that I am relaxed as possible (a tense sprinter is a slow sprinter).

In other news, I want to specifically welcome the members of the Yahoo groups speed skating mailing lists. Jim White mentioned this blog to the international readership over there, and suddenly the next day I have 328 visitors! Again, I am drinking a huge cup of “whoa”!

One of the exceptionally cool things about this international discussion list, is that there is a Dutch fellow who transfers the Dutch TV coverage of the world cup races to realplayer format, and posts it online, he announces it on this yahoo list. Here is the page he posts things on (these clips change every world cup). This last weeks races looked particularly epic, as it was blizzarding in Inzell, the women’s 1000m races reminded me of skating in Lake Placid! I once raced a 5k in conditions like this.

Peter, if you are ever in Salt Lake, I think there are a ton of us who would buy you dinner at the best restaurant in town, your hard work posting these clips is INCREDIBLY VALUED by those of us who would never otherwise get to see all of this world cup coverage.

After yesterday’s races, Bart Schouten’s team got on the ice for a workout, and I did some taping for both Chad Hedrick’s Journal, as well as for another website,, that is doing a video feature on Chad. This morning Chad is appearing on the ESPN morning show “cold pizza” and last night I had a studio guy stop by my house and pick up a burned CD of some of the video I have taped of Chad. Studio guy was wearing a “saskatoon speed skating club” T-Shirt, and immediately we recognized each other as members of the “skate gypsy” subculture.

Here are some images of Bart’s whole gaggle of speedy folks zipping by. Gold Medalist Derek Parra is in the lead. Pretty much every single athlete in these images is going to be competing in Olympic trials that are now only 6 DAYS AWAY!! When a group this size goes by, it can give you windburn!


Whether you love her or hate her, Eva Rodansky is never boring, today she showed up at the rink with this new graffiti on her skates, is that her heart or someone else’s heart with that sword stuck through it?? Or both???

Veritas means “truth” in Latin, and is also the motto of Harvard University.

And it is getting closer to the moment of Veritas, Olympic trials are 10 days away. Oddly enough, it’s really only a moment of “Olympic” truth for about a 10 of the 50 athletes who will be skating Olympic trials.

Several of the top skaters have already qualified for the Olympics through placing top 5 in the world cup twice (an extraordinarily hard thing to do). And after a lot of racing this season, people have a pretty good idea of who is capable of what, and there are actually very few people who are legitimately in competition for those last few Olympic team spots.

In just my own personal example, almost every 500m I have skated since early November has been between 37.08 and 37.40. Some have been great, some terrible and stumbling. But the times don’t vary too much, and I am not likely to suddenly shoot rocket flames from my butt and skate the high 34-low 35 necessary to earn a spot on the 500m men’s team. And if rocket-ass action did occur, I bet some doping control people, and a few sports scientists, would like to have a long conversation with me.

I raced again today, 37.29 was my 500m time. After all this hard work, I just can’t seem to break into the 36’s!!! Damm!!! Am I reaching the limit of what my body can do? No, there are still mistakes visible here. A Kazakhstan coach got my backstretch on videotape (no sound), and I added that into the video jess shot. A rare look at a 500m from start to finish.

One scary thing about this 500m worth noting, I was paired with my training buddy Marco (him on the left, me on the right). Marco lost his footing about 100m into the race, and came extremely close to sliding into me blades first. Immediately after my 500m, someone asked me “were you scared!” and I replied “Of what?” Thinking the question was more about the normal fear factor of the final inner turn of a 500m. Then I saw the video, and understood! I heard something happen on my left, but I was really focused on what I was doing, and had no idea it was the close call the video shows.


This photo is actually from last weekend, this is longtime national team member Chris Callis flying through the final turn of a 500m. Chris missed going to the 2002 Olympic games by a whisker, and then was ON FIRE during the 2003-04 season, skating well at the World Sprint Championships.

However the seasons since have been hard for him, and he has not been able to come back to that level, and is a longshot to make it to the Torino Games.

Take a moment and appreciate his lifetime of dedication, into this one skill, captured here in a moment, this beautiful moment of one man going 35mph balanced on a blade one millimeter thick!

Chris crashed extremely hard in practice this week; I heard him saying he feels more sore and internally ripped up than when he totaled his car in an accident this summer. He messed up his body and skates, and is still a bit woozy. But he is determined, and will be there on the start line at trials.

The Olympics can be wonderful, fate can be cruel, and may Chris find his path in life, no matter the result from trials.