Sprint Nationals Video

The allarounders will get their video soon, but the sprinters are out of the gate first. I honestly had this song “Seven Nation Army” running through my head as I was watching the skaters whiz by.

Here are the complete results for the men, and the results for the women.

Click here for the high quality quicktime
, or start the youtube below.

Complete Shotlist

Clay James Cholewinski, 500m start
Matt Shanahan being chased by Chris Needham
Trevor Marsicano stepping onto the ice
The warmup lane & pads at the Pettit
Elli Ochowicz & Heather Richardson, 1k
Tony Sargent, 500m start
Mitchell Whitmore, 500m
Christopher Needham, 1k start
Shani Davis & Brent Aussprung, 1k
Michael Stein-Stewart, 500m start
Rollshot just after warmup
Rebekah Bradford, 500m corner
Ashlee Barnett & Erica Lanser, after a 1k
Parker Vance, whoosh!! 10.06 opener
Bob Fenn – High 5!
Heather Richardson, 500m start
Tucker Fredricks, 1k start
Shani Davis, 500m
A really nice camera, & my cheap one.

Natz stuff soon

I am finally home, and trying to organize the vast amount of material I have from nationals.

I finished the video from the sprint completion very early this morning, and will be processing/posting it later today. It rocks like an avalanche, so keep your eyes open for a steady stream of good stuff–

Thanks to Sarah Beetham, Charlie Mahoney’s fianceé, for this image of me zipping along during a 500m. It’s like I am headed right at the camera at a weird angle to the track, but I do have proper nose-knee-toe alignment.

That skinsuit makes me look fat. I am pushing 205 right now, & that is a lot of Love to accelerate from a standing start, but I digress…

Did I have goals at nationals this year? How could I have a goal? I work full time, I have a lovely daughter, and between her amazing birth and a back injury that sidelined me at a critical training period, it’s been a challenge.

That said, I am intensely competitive, and have learned the hard way that to go really fast on skates requires an intricate blend of factors; it’s a physical and psychological puzzle, and this year I am missing most of the pieces. I do remember where the pieces go, but that only counts for so much.

But I would not be happy without goals, so I did have two:

I wanted to enjoy the experience of racing nationals like I did the very first time I qualified in December of 2003. That year I was like a creative kid during his first visit to LegoLand. It was a huge emotional high.

In 2004, 2005 & 2006 I had sacrificed & trained freakishly hard, and had expectations of results. I did race well, but did not have what I would call an “enjoyable” time, even though in 06 I did earn cat I. Last year nationals in 07 was more fun, but I was in a lot of pain from a chronic injury, and was still stressing out of habit.

So fun was goal #1 this year, but also I wanted to be faster than I was back in 2003. That first year I skated 38.8 & 39.0 in the 500, and 1:20-ish 1000m races.

I did accomplish both of my goals.

For the body I am wearing right now, I got about 95% of what it was capable of. My 500’s were 38.31 & 38.41, and my 1000’s were both in the mid 1:19’s.

All these times were light years slower than my sea-level PB’s from 2006 (37.1 & a low 1:16), but this year’s races felt “good” to skate.

I made connections with so many people who matter deeply to me; I had so many conversations that reminded me of the unique, warm people who are drawn to this sport, and so I am at peace, goal accomplished.

Day 1 US Nationals

I don’t have reliable Internet access, so this will be an incredibly quick entry, on a few moments of the many amazing races today.

So many stories in every event. Here is Lawrence Ducker leading Ryan Bedford entering the final turn of a 500m. I am pretty amazed at what Lawrence is doing here, as his left skate push is cleanly threading the tiny space between two blocks as he is traveling 33mph.

Shani & Chad showing some extended glide-time during extended pain-time; 3 laps to go in the 5k. They were paired together for both 500m and 5k, and it was incredible to watch these world champions/Olympic medalists go at it.

Whereas Chad & Shani were pushing each other, Trevor Marsicano was 3rd in the 5k by a whisker, a fantastic race, just himself vs the track. Here he is in the last few meters of pain, again, in a glide moment.

So many stories: Justin Stelly has spent most of this season recovering from injury. He is certainly not skating near his potential, and that is a psychological battle that he needs to go through to get back to the top of his game. He fights with heart here in the last 200m of his 5k…

and pays for it after the finish. As a pure sprinter, I totally respect the effort & toughness of the true allarounders.

Ashlee Barnett & her clipped, powerful style, is shooting through the final turn in the 500m, earning a highly respectable 2rd place finish. I think this is her first senior long track nationals medal. Go A-Barn! (Note & correction: she has several she earned as a junior, but this is the first in some time, and one she quite happy with.)

3 happy women on the podium after the 3k. Maria Lamb, Nancy Swider-Peltz, and Catherine Raney-Norman.

Ok, must run, my brief moment of internet connectivity is fading fast, more tomorrow if I can.


A picture can be worth a thousand words, or sometimes, one word can begin a thousand pictures, or even one vowel from a baby trying to coo & sing in infant-speak can launch novels in the heart.

My Father’s camera caught this moment that became our XMAS card for this year.

It becomes easier & harder to use words like “blessed” & “miracle” when I look at my daughter. What is that spark that is so definitively RZ from the moment she was born? What is this thing that has lit up our lives, and the faces of the grandparents?

A rationalist/reflectionist view of the world does not contain proper language for this.

It poured rain on Xmas eve, Xmas day was cold, and then sunset spilled its colors across quite skateable New Jersey lake ice

Although I walked on it, I did not venture out on blades. Small patches of open water betrayed uneven solidity, signifying the natural springs spelling danger for all but the thickest winter ice.

Being a father, my own yardstick of risk must change. Besides, “one look” from Jessica vetoed any skating.

For a brief instant, looking out at the lake, I wish national championships were contested on lake ice, with fixed blades, in single layer wool suits with foofy hats. Someday this race should happen (maybe in Petoskey?).

My dad snapped the moment as this was swirling in my mind.

I leave for Milwaukee & US national champs tomorrow, and knowing that Jess & RZ will be surrounded by family in this stupendously beautiful, very peaceful place, allows me to leave without overwhelming waves of guilt.

Thanks for the pics dad (and for a lot of other things too, If I am half the Father you have been to me, I will still end up a great Dad).

Garden State Style

What is the heart & soul of speedskating? What is the essential bedrock of this sport?

It’s a hypothetical question with many right answers. But I found some of the best answers I’ve ever seen during a low-key practice I just skated with the Garden State Speedskating club;

Here are the skates of East Penn Speedskating coach Hence Bollinger and one of the organizers of the Middle Atlantic Skating Association, Al Harding, relaxing after a solid practice.

Without committed grass roots volunteers like Hence & Al, speedskating dies.

Without good folks like Bill Jamin & Glenn Hukins who welcomed me warmly (as they welcome all) to practice with the Garden State Club, speedskating is in serious trouble.

Although our national team members, and the folks who win World Cups & Olympic medals deserve lots of love, so do the grass roots. Like these two young skaters, flying past duct-tape scarred pads.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful project to try and skate with every short track club in America during a season? My best count from the US speedskating website is that there are 64 of them. A doable number if that goal was your overwhelming goal. I remember over 100 clubs when I started 8 years ago.. hmmm….

I would link to the US speedskating club finder, but that website does not support incoming links, or the back button, or… (the list goes on & on)….

It’s really easy to look at the national caliber programs in Salt Lake city, and anoint this group as the be all & end all. Indeed, that is where US Speedskating’s 1.3 million dollar a year budget goes. The Elite do need support, no question about that, it’s the only way they can be competitve.

But they are only the tip of the pyramid, and the height of that tip is greatly dependent on the width & health of its base. That base is right here in all these volunteer run clubs full of good people, scattered across the USA.

After this one practice, in the locker room, it seems as if the East Penn club had their cookie exchange the week before, and there were still reams of cookies flying around from East Penn skaters up to skate in Jersey. I ended up with a good-sized stack, these 2 immediately fueling my post workout bliss.

Dustin, what did you put in your gooey butter cookies? A half-ton of butter dusted with cocaine?? wow… Hence, did you say those were hand ground almonds? omigosh I could not stop eating them….

But seriously; let me say an overdue public thank you to Joel Boyd & the Binghamton short track club. I don’t think they exist anymore; but in my first 2 seasons of skating, they had a huge impact in getting me started, and helping me fall in love with this sport.

Thanks Joel, and thanks to all the volunteers who make this sport possible.

4 Pictures

Here is Ryan Bedford, checking Vicky Daignault’s skates at an early morning short track practice.

Ryan is one of the very few skaters who dares attempt the grueling & technically insane back-to-back challenge of US short track & Long track national championships.

This is not a posed photo. They were doing this and I walked over, camera in hand. It’s like Ryan is adjusting the sights on a rifle. (word just in, thanks to Linda commenting on a previous post: Ryan just earned a world cup berth in ST, finishing 5th at ST nationals. He coud earn a slot in the LT champs too! what will he choose?)

Here is Torino Olympian Maria Lamb, about to step on the ice for an easy workout, one of her last leading up to US LT championships.

Peak week workouts are fun, easy, you go fast & feel great, and it fuels optimism going into US championships.

I like the little metallic fish she has on her water bottle so she can tell it’s hers.

Here is my little RZ, in the Salt Lake city airport. Quite interested in everything going on around her.

Traveling in with an infant can be miserable. I was so worried, I handed out earplugs to the rows in front and in back of us on the airplane.

RZ was a rockstar, & just hung out, intrigued by everything, her eyes darting around her as fast as they could go.

I thought speedskating was a great technical & emotional challenge. I have found its match; Being a big guy & trying to change a dirty diaper in a tiny airplane bathroom. Wow… Intense….

Our little family arrived safely in Newark, and now I am in one of the most peaceful & beautiful places I have ever found on planet earth. I won’t reveal its secret location, but suffice it to say it’s a lake in rural New Jersey.

And no, that is not skateable ice on the lake. It formed during snowstorm, and although it’s an inch thick, it’s rotten and cracks with impressive & scary noises when stood on. I did try.

Skating, traveling, family, and ice. A small thing like “US national championships” mixed in there. I will be competing at LT nationals in Milwaukee in a week. What a long strange trip its been, and is, and will be.


There are so many stories happening at races all across the world. But I am just one camera & keyboard, and here is the story I saw at the races on Saturday.

I’ve written a few times about Tony Sargent, a really nice guy who moved to Utah from Oklahoma to try and qualify for Olympic trials. Tony inline speedskated as a kid, and has competed at the elite levels in Golf. Here is a story his local paper ran.

Tony skated a qualifying time late last year for US championships, but this year they lowered the qualification times significantly. These new times were faster than he has ever skated, and although he has improved, his times were not enough to qualify him for nationals or Olympic Trials under the new times.

So his coach changed his training, and peaked him for this weekend. This race was his last chance to qualify for his first trip to nationals, & he needed to skate a sub 39 second 500m.

Coming around the last turn, his long legs and torso churning, he must have known he was on a great race, and how close it was going to be.

38.93 !!!

The eruption of cheers from his teammates, friends & coaches echoed through the whole oval.

In one moment he had qualified for both US national championships this year, and Olympic trials next year.

I speak often of how this sport can break your heart, but when it’s good, when you skate that PB on the day it counts, it’s a feeling like….

Well, Tony, how do you feel?

I’ve called my whole family up, and I pretty much broke down in the locker room, it’s just a huge weight off my shoulders. Huge.

A kid from Oklahoma skating Olympic trials! It’s a good thing! On the Ice! Not something we have much of there.

This is right up there with my best golf days, it feels like I just won a tournament, even though I will be dead last at US championships.

Before I hit a golf ball in a big tournament, I tell myself that I am the best golfer out here, and I know I am going to hit a good shot and I do.

So, before my race today, I told myself that I am the best one out here, and even though I did not skate the best time out here today (note: 13th of the 20 skaters)

I skated my best time, better than I have ever been before. The best Tony that I have ever been.

Congrats Tony! I looked at some of your earliest times, and that kind of improvement is truly remarkable.

From a 47.24 second 500m to a 38.93 in two years takes a stunning amount of hard work!

You would have beaten your first race, head-to head, by over 80 meters.

(check out the cool graph on this German website, DESG, and in english, all of Tony races)

37 at 37

My friend Eric Kraan turned 37 yesterday, so for his birthday, his idea of fun was to lace up his classic Viking hardtails and skate 37 laps!!

Eric skates everything, ice, inline, quads, the Funky Friday night skate here in Salt Lake. He is an allskater in the truest sense of the word.

Eric still can go fast, and could have skated those laps faster with his custom boots & clap blades, but things can be different when you love skating but start to see the south side of 30, (or maybe I am wrong, maybe it’s just that Eric’s dad is Dutch).

In his last few laps, Eric did catch an edge and took a tumble to the ice, but the important thing is he popped right back up again, and finished with a smile (or was that a grimace of lactic pain)

and that is important at any age…

Zen 10 questions: Katherine Reutter

It was US championships in December 2007, as the skaters were being introduced & called to the start I noticed this redhead who gave an absolutely huge smile when her name was called.

(all photos in this post are from the amazing Tom DiNardo).

At a moment of supreme stress, she seemed incredibly relaxed and happy. Katherine Reutter went on to simply dominate all the races, throwing huge outside passes, and saying to the rest of the athletes “catch me if you can”. None could.

I later learned that in qualifying for this meet, she had unofficially broken the 9 lap time trial world record. Who was this person?

After a number of conversations at the rink, and meeting her folks in the stands at the world cups, now I have an idea who this remarkable indivudal is, and am proud to welcome her to my little home on the web.

onward to the interview!

1. So what is the origin of that huge smile I see on your face when you step to the start line? And has it changed?

Smiling at the line has never been something I’ve thought about… You go through every round hoping to make it to the finals and it’s such an honor to be introduced as one of the top skaters and to be representing your country at world cups that smiling just seems so natural.

I’m also so appreciative of all the people in the stands who come to watch and cheer that it’s the least I can do to acknowledge how much their support fuels me.

2. In years past, you were known as a crazy strong skater with questionable technique, what are the things you have worked on to change this?

A lot of technique just comes with practice… I keep track of all the technical things I need to change by writing down what they are and I what I need to do to fix them.

Then I focus one just 1 or 2 things until it’s committed to muscle memory and move on to the next. But even then when race time comes around I fall back into a lot of bad habits.

If I’ve learned anything about technique in the past few years it’s that you just have to keep practicing. It sounds so easy! But it’s not!

3. Your Dad told me that he introduced you to lifting weights at age 9, and you really liked it. What are your memories from then?

I can hardly remember a time in my training when I haven’t weight lifted! That’s what really helped me when I never had the same advantages on the ice as other girls, but I was able to develop strong muscles.

My dad was a great coach and I had fun weightlifting then and now because it’s the only work-out where week to week you can see improvement; whereas with other training you have to remember the big picture and know that your work will pay off eventually.

4. Your dad also mentioned “mean girls” as a huge motivation for you to excel. I’ve heard other female athletes talk about this. Is this different than what men experience?

It is different from what men experience because all the men teams I’ve worked with have been so competitive that every practice they’re striving to win and most of their differences are settled on the ice.

Ladies, by nature, aren’t so cutthroat, but can be just as brutal off the ice. Speedskating is a difficult sport because we’re all so young and just want to fit in with our team that it’s easy to forget that you’re here for yourself and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

5. Speedskating can be a physically, technically and emotionally brutal sport, what do you find really hard & have to work on all the time?

Confidence is what I work on the most. Training comes with ups and downs so I try to be comfortable with myself, my effort, and knowing that slumps don’t last forever. It’s hard not to get frustrated when things aren’t going as well as you want.

6. Your dad told me that you two have a conversation every six months, about “is this what you really want to be doing?” Have those conversations got easier or harder as you have gotten older & reached the upper levels of the sport?

They’ve gotten harder. With great risk comes great reward… or great heartbreak. I know that this is what I want to be doing it’s just those moments after the heartbreak when I need some comfort from home.

7. What are the hard things you have to work on, on a daily basis, to excel?

Positive thinking. It’s the difference between 1st and 2nd

8. From your perspective as one of the truly fast, what are the tiny things that separate first through 10th place?

Mental toughness! At the end of a race it can come down to strength, but every day and every round depend on how motivated, smart, and positive you are.

9. What is GREAT about your life right now, what is really HARD?

God is the greatest thing in my life. It’s easy to forget all the things he does for us, but no matter what I’m dealing with he’s there to take my stress away and show me the right way to go.

The hardest thing about my life is being away from home and not having enough time to be normal. My life is probably 85% skating with 15% leftover for family, school, and friends… I hate not having time or energy for other really important things.

10. Who are the people that you really need to thank, who have been with you every step of the way?

My parents and grandparents have never missed a U.S competition.

My mom is my escape when I’m overwhelmed, my dad is who pushes me through the toughest times to come out on top, and my Grandma and Grandpa are so inspirational because I know how much they believe in me every time I step to the line.

And Coach Mac who is who taught me the power of positive thinking.

Zen Haiku Speed Round

1. Favorite food after a brutal training day?

A big plate of pasta with lots of cheese and meatballs!

2. Best Halloween costume you ever had as a kid?

Pink power ranger!

3. Do you still have your first pair of skates? What are they?

I think so… they’re quad skates that fit on top of toddler shoes and the wheels barely roll!

4. How many scars do you have from skating?

1- knee surgery.

5. At an endless magazine rack at Barnes & Noble, what is the one that you always reach for?

Hmmm… Glamour. Or a cooking magazine.

6. When you need to decompress from skating, what do you do?

Go home.

7. Do you have a few words of motivation I can tell my daughter, or other female athletes, as they contemplate the effort required to excel?

Have the courage to be great. You’re more powerful that you could ever imagine if you just go for it.

8. Magazine or book under your bed right now?

Captivating by Stasi and John Elderedge.

9. When you picture “perfect speedskating technique” what pops into your mind’s eye?

J.R Celski’s relaxedness, Apolo’s power, Anthony Lobello’s pivot, and Jeff Simon’s fight.

10. Do redheads have more fun?

Always : )

Liveblogging RZ

My little daughter just transfixed me with her first sustained 10,000 watt smile.

Since my wife is out at Yoga-class, I am baby-wrangling & have had extended bottle-feeding and father daughter-playtime, so I know this smile is just for me.

Even thought I am exactly 19 times her size, I am not sure who is holding whom; I have completely melted into a swirling puddle of Dad.

This is not all smiles & roses, there are thorns to this time of life too.

But right now I am ready to crawl across the United States by my eyelashes just to see my daughter smile again. Someday she will probably ask me to do just that, and I will, joyously.