Erfurt

The clouds crack open at dawn, a whole planeload of travelers sit blearily upright, and suddenly the density of Europe sprawls underneath.

European trains rock! This is the futuristic ICE train from Frankfurt to Erfurt. ICE= Inter-City-Express. It looks more like a gleaming rocket than a train.


To the right is the tattoo of the engineer. I don’t know why I found this so funny, but I did.

I have comfort in a high-tech train being piloted by a huge man with a big tattoo.

When the train started moving, it was so gentle & silent, that I did not realize we were moving for about 30 seconds, then I looked out the window and saw the world whooshing by.

Immediately to the ice in Erfurt..

Here is the live webcam link to the rink. You can see the feel of the place… As the cam refreshes every minute.

Here is the outside of the Hall, it’s actually not that huge, as facilities like this go, nothing like Hamar or Salt Lake. Erfurt blends gently into the hillside.

The rink is quite good, the lanes are narrow & tight & the ice is very hard. It will be a challenging place to rip a 500m, but a great place for distance races.

There are many good folks here from many nations; we are having a lot of fun… for example. Here a is a quote from Star Wars & following goofyness.

Ben Kenobi: I suggest you try it again, Luke. This time, let go your conscious self and act on instinct. (Ben puts a helmet on luke)

Luke Skywalker: But, with the blast shield down, I can’t even see. How am I supposed to fight?

Ben Kenobi: Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them. Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.

Actually, this is not a blast shield, it’s a Delta airlines eye cover that I was given on the flight over. It matches my suit perfectly.

And one must certainly feel the “force” flowing. Even if it is just the force from your body through the skates & into the ice. Try too hard and you go really slow..

Here is part of a mural in the hallway underneath the ice rink. There is lots of Graffiti in Europe, very, very weird.

Lest one thinks that this is just a blog about old folks, I have a thought for the junior skaters out there. After the master’s sessions, I see groups of young Germans (top) and Romanians (bottom) take the ice, and they are quite serious & focused in their training.

Train hard, dream big! and junior skaters, if you ever make the world cup level, the focus and intensity you “put in the bank now” it will help you compete better.

And even more importantly, if you make it to that level, these folks might be your friends someday.

Americans NEED to travel, we need friends from other countries, we are so isolated! (physically, media-culture, and psychologically. Yes we have neighbors, but they are very quiet, or maybe we are just too loud to listen to them.)

I’ve greeted many old friends here, people that I met for the first time at Master’s meets 4 years ago. Travel is a gift of skating, as are the people.

I had dinner with the Italian team a few nights ago, what wonderful people, what a family of sportsmen!! They have 4 Olympians in their group of 13, and 5 time Olympian/world champion Roberto Sighel is one of them.

The draw was held in a huge, ornamental hall filled with 200 athletes of all ages, from 12 different countries. I wish I had panned up to get the multiple chandeliers. Masters worlds are a big friggin deal.

They have a supercool computer program that randomly picks names on the right, and fills in the pairs on the left. I think “wunderbar!” is the right term in German.

I was relieved, with the tightness of the track, to have the inner start/final outer in the 500m

Travel is great, but we are here to race, and I have a job to do..

I race the 500m in a few hours, and when I think about it, my insides start shaking, and I must repeat to myself, over and over.

YOU PRACTICE THIS ALL THE TIME, YOU WORK HARD, YOU ARE 100% READY.

3 years & 500 posts.

Today is the 3-year anniversary of starting this blog. It also happens to be my 500th blog post.

Wow…..

The blog now has 900-1000 visitors a day right now, and there have been 3,203 comments in the 3 years. This website will easily crack a half-million page views this year. There were over 1,000 incoming links last year from all over the world.

The total video views, when the YouTube, Hipcast, and the quicktime I host are all added together, its about 140,000+ views.

Wow…

Thanks so much to everyone who reads, and yes, this means !!!you!!! sitting at your computer screen!

Even if I’ve never met you, or had an opportunity to say thanks in person or via email.

My deepest thanks!

I never intended to create something like this. I just wrote & photographed what interested me, and the world showed up.

Last night I was in the hotel lobby, and a very sweet Norwegian speedskater comes up to me and she says “I voted for the trim, short beard, keep up the great website”.

When I was registering for the races here, the German man working the registration table said:

“You are Andrew Love? Yes? I am Danielle Anschutz’s husband, and I was Jenny Wolf’s manager, we like your website & your youtube videos very much.”

(Danielle Anschutz is an Olympic medalist, and Jenny Wolf just skated the women’s 500m world record. These are some of Germany’s best)

Creating something that people enjoy has been tremendously fulfilling. This website is a lot of work, the bandwidth alone costs me $350 a year (and I will need more soon) but when work is something you have a passion for, it’s a joy, when you can touch people, & share something with folks all over the world, it’s so worth it.

Thanks everyone!

more soon…

dear all–

sorry I have not written, I’ve found plenty of internet connections (I’m writing from a computer in a hotel lobby) But I am having a very hard time finding a wireless connection that “plays well” with my laptop… I’ve got 3 posts ready to go..

I need sleep… There are 5 americans here, we are feeling great, and really looking forward to the races that start tomorrow..

I will send this one small digital postcard here of the rink I am in, this is USA skater Marty Haire, in a very weird, one of a kind warmup skinsuit, doing some laps. This wild suit got lots of laughs from the other nations.

Marty is followed by swiss skater & good guy Markus Ulmer. Marty is skating really relaxed, and is skating a 34 second lap here.. that means he is holding a consistent 26mph… This is why this sport is so dang addicting.

This was one of the quieter training sessions. This afternoon there must have been over 200 masters skaters on the ice!!!

PB’s + Germany!

I’m posting 3 things at once, so make sure to scroll down & check out the “Beard Poll” & “Masters in Calgary”.

I’m writing from the Cincinnati airport, on my way to Germany.

In an hour I will board this plane, and under the direction of a myriad of towers like the one in the background, will travel 5,000 miles in a bit under 9 hours.

Amazing. It’s equally werid that I have based my whole year of training thinking mainly about one weekend.

I’ve worked awfully hard on my distance skating, as this is an Allaround meet (500-1500-3000-5000), and anything over a minute of work is very difficult for my big legs & fast twitch muscle fibers.

Inline marathons & slideboard & laps & biking & lifting & more laps & racing & racing things that I’m bad at, & more laps & long long slideboard sessions, & more things I suck at, & pain & dryland till I crumble & more laps & crashing in short track & discouragement & exhaustion & questioning & determination redoubled & redoubled & redoubled until I can’t measure it anymore.

And then suddenly I wake up and the race is almost here—

In the past 8 days I’ve skated very satisfying personal bests in both the 1500m and the 3000m. I’ve removed the training stress, and am getting fast, right on schedule.

I am as ready as I will ever be.

This image was taken by Dan Barrett, at US Nationals this year during my 1500. Even during US nationals, I was looking ahead, practicing my 1500 for master’s worlds.

My goal for worlds is to make the top 3, as I was 5th last year. But there are some scary fast skaters in my age-group. There is a Dutch guy coming who could possibly lap me twice in the 5k…. yeeeooow!

Yet I can’t control how anyone else races, just myself.

Travel across the world to race other people, and just find a mirror staring back at you.

Speedskating is so weird… This is known as… fun…..

I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else…

Beard Poll

When my wife first met me, I had an “Eric the Red” beard. However I’ve been clean-shaven for the past 8 years, and have come to honestly prefer it.

But both Jessica and my awesome mom-in-law Peg miss my fuzzier state & vigorously lobby for me to grow it back.

On a whim this year, I did grow a beard again, aerodynamics be dammed! (and yes, it does matter at top speeds).

A beard is nice & warm, and it’s low maintenance, even if you need to be a bit more careful when you are eating to not wear your food. I’ve even got some grey mixing in now.

Yesterday, as I was packing for Germany and Masters worlds, I shaved it off. Ahhh… my face felt free again.

But I will lay a question out to the public THAT YOU CAN VOTE ON!

(I want to test blog-polling technology, so this is a good excuse).

What should I do?

Should I return to the Full beard?

Should I do a halfway, urban-professional vibe?

Or should I be clean-shaven? Cool in those scorching desert-hot summers, and faster in the winters?

let your voice be heard!

Of these 3 pictures, what looks best?

View Results

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If your vote is not recorded, or if this poll does not work. Please let me know in the comments & what browser/OS you are using.

I will try to abide by the wishes of the voting public.

This is a year of intense politics in the USA, so admittedly I am trying to split the “pro-fur” constituency across two candidates, and Jessica’s vote is a “super-delegate” vote, because she does count more.

p.s. Jess & Peg, you can’t vote 1000 times in a row, only one vote per I.P. address!

I want to mention that my oldest friend, someone I’ve known since I was 3, Nathan, is now blogging himself. I can’t wait to see how his blog evolves over time.

Nate is a man of many beards, and a great fellow, so I am very interested in his opinion.

(I think I know what nate’s vote will be, he is a Vermonter, & those folks prioritize warm equipment…)

Masters in Calgary

There are several large meets I “missed” this year, one of them was the Masters international Canadian open in Calgary this past February 9th & 10th.

However Peter Haeussler & Tim Demerjian have sent me some FABULOUS images of these races. Looking forward to Masters world’s next week, this is some of the vibe that will be happening.

Getting ready for the ice-

Speedskater Kevin Frost, who is an amazing story due to his Usher’s syndrome, getting ready next to his guide dog, Nemo.

Several Norwegians who made the trip to race (as well as Russians and Americans). Here a Norwegian going very fast. It’s probable this is 50-55 year old skater Brynjulf Makestad or 60-65 year old Knut Nesse, who both set masters records during this meet.

This great image really captures how skating “feels”, thanks Tim!
Click on it for a “desktop-sized” version

Peter writes:
Cheering for everybody is part of the Masters racing scene. Here’s the ladies (who had finished their races), cheering on 78 year old Peter Blokker on his 3K race. Closest to camera is Kaari Cox, then Jan Zurcher.

Another picture of Peter Blokker and another athlete in the 75-80 age group. Peter Haeussler writes

I guess I’m just really impressed by their ability at that age. I’m 46, so I’m hoping I can perfect my technique in the next 34 years!

Canadian Brett Arnason chasing a fellow competitor in the 55+ age group

Just in case you didn’t know this, it’s a good tip! Ha!!

Warmup lane chatting… Catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones, is a huge part of masters skating.

Randy Plett and Pat Kelly were 1-2 overall. Randy is an “allskater” & does very well at both ice & inline. Pat was on 2 Canadian Olympic teams & lowered his own 1000m masters record at this meet (he was paired with me when he set his first 1k record, a loong time ago).

Here is Pat & Randy, going at it in the 3k, here is a link to the results.

There are many fun things about racing in Calgary; one of them is the food court within easy walking distance. You don’t even have to step outside! This is a poster from there.

Maybe skating is, in an absolute moral sense, like most sports & human trivialities, a stupid thing done very quickly and taking a lot of energy.

But like coffee, how wonderfully pleasant & rewarding the sensations…

Whoooosh!!!

Again, thanks Peter & Tim!

National Marathon Champs

This coming weekend is the National Marathon Championships in Bemidji, MN. If I weren’t on my way to Germany, I’d consider doing this wonderful event.

Joe Von Drasek sent me some pictures of the course that has emerged from the lake ice.

They have the old Zamboni from the John Rose oval out there making some really nice ice. It looks like a pretty wide track.

Marathons are a lot of fun, even for sprinter-types like me. One always ends up in a pack of skaters with similar ability.

Looking at pictures of the course, my mind does that triangulation between “challenging”, “cold”, and “more fun”.

The race is being organized by Chantal Cermack (formerly Chantal Bailey of the 1992 US Olympic team).

This is her daughter. In the latter stages of a 42k, my expression is usually similar (but what are the words to properly describe this expression? any suggestions are appriciated)

I once did a calculation of race entry fee divided by total race distance, the best value I have ever had by that measure, was ice marathon nationals when I raced it in 2002.

This is the view of the track from the hill the race hotel is on.

People can register right up to race time, they are looking for a lot more skaters to help make the event a success. My close friend Carla will be there, going for her 3rd (or is it 4th?) women’s championship.

You can find the race entry form, wavier, and information form here.

ST women’s races

Katherine Reutter mentioned to me at the rink that she has not been able to find any videos of her races from the world cup on YouTube.

Ha! I have them, so here they are-

Usually I am much more able to just tape & not cheer so loudly, but for the women’s 1500m, I was a bit more vocal. Short track is exciting stuff, and Katherine had many freinds & family in the stands, so it was quite a rowdy crowd….

When I say, “just go” as I am taping, I am referring to something I saw in an earlier race when two Chinese skaters were at the front of the pack, and the skater in front took off, the skater in 2nd did not chase. A gap immeadiately formed & that Chinese skater won the heat.

There was a brief moment of this race where two US skaters were in the lead, and I was hoping they would do that.

Click here to start the QuickTime, or press play for the Youtube below.

In the result of this 1500m, Zhou Yang was first, with Katherine in second and Allison Bayer in third. A great result for the US women.

Also I have the 1000m race, it must give an athlete goosebumps to be out there competing, and to hear your hometown crowd start chanting “USA” “USA”.

Click here to start the quicktime, or press play for the Youtube below.

Meng Wang of China won this race. Katherine Reutter of the United States was second. Korean skater Shin-Young Yang finished third

Rideau Canal

My friends Eric and Kim are lifelong skaters; they met at a speedskating race, and were married wearing their skates in La Vegas. They currently run the Skate Now Shop & Eric coaches speedskaters & Roller Derby

So it is only natural that for a romantic weekend getaway to celebrate their deep bond, what better place for this couple to go than the natural ice heaven of the Rideau Canal in Ottawa?

Here is the Canal at night-

And later, during the day-

Eric says that skating on true natural ice, he sees why “old school skates had short blades and very round rockers”.

There were lots of cracks & Eric did several “superman” crashes.

Ready……

Kim, happily goofing around, the thing I love about this photo is the smiling Canadian in the background in a T-shirt!!

The high on this day was –3 C/26F

Of course for Ottawa, is that t-shirt weather?

I have great affection for my many friends north of the border, and have raced ice & inline in Ottawa several times.

I can honestly say that one of the coldest days I have ever experienced on skates, was in Brewer park, Ottawa’s long track. I remember after the races I had plans to go skate the Canal for fun, but I was so cold after the weekend, all I did was stop briefly and look at it.

Next time I will bring my T-shirt.

World Cup 1000m

Video shot February 10th, of the 1000m final at the Short track world cup. This race has a lot of what makes short track exciting, crashes, contact, a fast, close finish, and one of the best skaters of our generation, Apolo Ohno, winning in front of the home crowd.

Click here for the quicktime, or press play below for the YouTube.