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

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, 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


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.

Younger than June-

This weekend, someone asked me “Andrew, how old are you?”

Without thinking, I answered:

Well, I am younger than I was in June

Given the quizzical look I got, I had to explain this, to myself as well as the questioner: This spring I was in my worst shape in about 6 years. A new baby + my wife’s illness, & I had gained about 10 lbs, as well as lost some muscle mass .

At the end of June, I started training hard again. After a lot of hard work, I feel so much better.

Although Olympic trials might have been what got me into gear, my finishing times at trials are secondary compared to how I feel. How old am I really? Almost 39. However I definitely feel younger than I was in June.

Isn’t that the gift you give yourself, really. With all this working out? To feel better? To step outside of time?

My friend Bill Armstrong is also younger than he has been in years, just cut about 4 seconds off his 1000m PB this past weekend. He is training with the tough guy Bob Fenn, and that will make you younger (or you will die trying).

I’ve seen this transformation over and over in people who have gotten really serious about speedskating. I’ve seen Bill think about it for some time. This year he has really thrown his whole self in, and it shows. And although we might point to a race or event we are training for, it’s the decision to prepare for it that matters.

Hey Jude & Jet Planes

I’ve been so focused on training & daddy-hood, that I have not written. I have this feeling at the rink, that if I don’t focus 100% for every rep, I will have an “epic fail”.

Olympic trials in 35 days!

So the camera stays in the bag, and my brain stays on skating technique. At home, the kidlet is just as demanding, tons of fun, and sucking up my last ounces of strength.

However my friend Eric did something awfully funny. And I got permission to republish here—

see, Eric was skating along Abby Road one day–

For all my skating friends!

Hey jude, dont skate so bad.
Spin some bearings and make it better.
Remember, hips under, & push through your heel,
Then youll begin to skate much
Better better better better better better, oh.

-Eric Rijk Kraan

Thanks Eric for the laugh!

I need it, I am writing from the Salt Lake Airport, on my way to Wisconsin for my cousin Mike’s wedding (Yes, I will visit the Pettit & skate/race too.. why not?)

But Jess & RZ are staying home. It’s so hard to leave, especially when your baby tries to climb into your luggage.

She is standing on my skates right now. A baby is more important than a perfect bend.

(cue the soundtrack “Leaving on a Jet Plane”).

The Thinker

My buddy Brian Boudreau, between flying 200m reps, working from his laptop. He is a programmer in an exotic computer language, MUMPS to be exact.

I love the echo here of Rodin’s “The Thinker“. The New York Times had an article today about how exercise is now proven to be good for your brain. But not just easy rambling workouts, it’s gotta be hard.

The rats who were the original focus of the study did forced wheel running, and according to the NYT-

Allow a laboratory mouse to run as much as it likes, and its brainpower improves. Force it to run harder than it otherwise might, and its thinking improves even more.

Sounds like skating hard, chasing your buddies, or with a coach urging you onward with the weighty judgment of the incorruptible stopwatch.

So thanks Brian, my brain feels better after that workout we did. And I always thought skating in circles was brain crushing. How wrong I was.

150 meters of imperfection

Before I mention my disastrous first race of the year, here is Elli Ochowicz, showing dryland perfection. She has 10 years on the world cup circuit, and barring unforeseen catastrophe, will make her 3rd Olympic team in short order.

This is some impressive dryland balance & super deep sitting by this 3-time USA sprint champion– she was doing this with such slow motion precision you could have balanced a glass of fine merlot on her shoulders. Note the extended foot is off the ground too. Ouch.

There was “early season” racing at the Utah oval, and even though I know I should not be upset at how awful my 1000m was, as it is still September, but I’ve been working too damm hard to skate like I did.

On paper, I should be able to skate the 1:16.08 to qualify for Olympic trials in the 1000m. I’ve already qualified in the 500m, but I don’t want to be a one-dimensional athlete, even though over and over, this is what my body tells me I am. So I train hard for the 1000m out of bull-headed determination.

In the race itself, I rushed my start & first corner, had 3 major slips in the first 150 meters, skated my slowest 200m opener EVER, and my hopes for the time I needed disappeared before the race was 16 seconds old. It wasn’t my body, it was execution of technique under pressure. The final time hurt more emotionally than the intense physical pain of the race. 1:18.7

(insert appropriate 4 letter word here, repeated over and over… I am really pissed at myself, this is 6 seconds slower than my PB, and at least 3 seconds slower that what I expect from myself for a 1000m while under a training load)

I should have lifted on Saturday after racing, but the muscles where my hips join my back are completely shredded/sore/aching. So instead of risking injury in the weight room, I’m taking the weekend off, concentrating on family, and the mental/visualization/positive attitude aspects of racing.

So hand me that glass of Merlot, I need to picture that perfect race, over and over.

What percentage of speedskating is mental execution of technique under pressure? What percentage physical? If you are an athlete, be honest with yourself about this.

Now be honest with yourself about your division of TIME you invest between these two aspects of a racing performance.

I am failing right now.. The body is about 90% there, the mind is not. Just a couple of weeks to turn it around.

Moments of Pure Awesomeness

Dear RZ,

Displaying great determination in the past 2 days, you have learned how to stand, and can now do it without support for some time. Walking is not far behind.

Maybe someday it might mean something that you started standing on your own the same week that the short trackers had their Olympic trials. This probably won’t matter to you, but I’ll always remember.

What you do really need to know is that one of your favorite things to stand up against, or on, or crawl over, is our dog Lilly. Lilly tolerates your babyness the way loyal dogs have for ages.

However, Lilly should not be here for you to lean on. She was neglected & abused before being turned into the Ithaca Humane society as a young adult, and she was one very aggressive scary mess of a barking, snarling dog when she arrived there.

She was people aggressive, dog aggressive, was an escape artist, and evidently dug her way out of a concrete & wire pen.

In most humane societies, Lilly would have gone straight into the dead dog pile. But a volunteer took her in, and worked with Lilly for months before we met her. By then she was just a semi-scary mess, but you could see the possiblity of the dog she could become.

We took a chance.

Even so, it was YEARS of training & work before we would have trusted her with a baby who pulls ears, fur, her leash, her jingly collar, etc. Now we trust her completely. Lilly would die for you, in a split second. This is what dogs are.

So know this. Life is a really long road, sometimes you walk, sometimes crawl, sometimes even run, bike & skate on the good days. And you will do most of this alone. Lilly will not always be with you. Nor will I.

But always remember that you took your first steps with a fistful of Lilly’s fur, a dog who was given every reason to hate people, but learned to trust again, love again, and made everything from her second chance.



Convergence of the twain

August/September are the hardest months of training in the year for national caliber long track speedskaters. It’s when summer volume meets intensity. A convergence of two different physiological systems that leaves most athletes tongue dragging with exhaustion. April Medley’s t-shirt captures my mood exactly-

It’s a “convergence of the twain” that jars your body into becoming faster, even as it makes you want to sleep 12 hours a shot, and eat everything in sight.

The title of this post is a reference to the poem “Convergence of the twain”. A poem written by Thomas Hardy about the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. I had to memorize it long ago & it has stuck. Brilliant words.

No one has done a similar piece of art that describes September 11th, despite Simon Armitage’s best effort at a poetic echo.

Maybe we are simply a YouTube world now, not a world of soaring poetic oratory. But one thing is for sure, September 11th changed our world as much as the sinking of the Titanic changed things 89 years before.

The Titanic was a smackdown of nature vs humanity, a hubris moment for technology designed to protect us. The horrors of WWI came shortly thereafter.

What was it about Sept 11th, in retrospect, that shocked us so badly? A smackdown of the secular vs the extreme fundamentalist worldview? An act of war against a country, serene in it’s security, that had not seen major devastation of a city since the 1860’s?

(So of course we reply with an act of war. Several in fact. Is our desire for revenge sated now?).

Don’t know how this post went from speedskating induced exhaustion to historical analysis between the world from 1912 to 2009.

Must be a symptom of tiredness induced clarity.

Cyclists & Speedskaters

I want to take a moment to recognize a few Speedskaters who have done awesome things on the bike this year. But first, here are some opinions of mine. Speedskaters tend to make fantastic cyclists– Why?

  1. Raw anaerobic power & crank cracking strength are very important in most American bike races. These are the qualities that speedskaters train every time they step on the ice, and can train more easily than a cyclist. Just being IN the skating position is an anaerobic power based activity
  2. Due to the static-explode-static-explode nature of the skating motion, it puts the muscles under terrific stress, much more than the constant circle of a cycling stroke.
  3. For the same perceived effort, a speedskating effort will generate 3 times the wattage of a cycling effort. It might only be a split second of that extreme pressure, but it’s there. This is also why speedskaters excel at Track cycling, where maximal power counts.

Cyclists tend not to do so well at Speedskating, Why?

  1. Those little stabilizer muscles for balancing on one leg take years to develop.
  2. Ice is brutally unforgiving of anything but perfection.
  3. Being crazy strong on the bike still might not be crazy strong in a weight bearing sport. A bike race involves a huge number of sub-max revolutions while the bike supports your body. This is why if you are moving your house, you need Speedskaters to pick up & move the furniture.
  4. Speedskaters are athletes who must have phenomenal Proprioceptive ability. Often cyclists don’t. Speedskaters won’t drop the couch when walking backwards.

Make no mistake, I love my bike(s), cycling is a phenomenally interesting sport, with the greatest “variety” of training scenery imaginable. Road, Mountain, Track, Cyclocross, it’s never “hamster wheel” stuff.

But I often feel like skating helps my cycling more than the other way around. After regular ice time, I feel like I can tear the cranks right off the bike. The reverse is not true, just riding a bike is not skating preparation.

I want to send a few shout outs to some skaters I know, who have been excelling on the bike this year.

Melissa Dahlmann has been part of the skate tribe for years, here she is racing in Calgary.

and in one of those pre-race moments before stepping on the ice in Salt lake. This is the only photo in this post that is my work-

She has turned her prodigious gifts towards cycling, and has worked extremely hard. Her facebook updates are a litany of scary long rides.

Here is how her year has been, in her own words:

Speedskating this past winter was very difficult, as the times when I could get out to train were mostly late-night, below zero. Didn’t get to race the weekend time trials after GMSA said non-members couldn’t participate, and Heidi did not have the time/I did not have the money to join. But I did manage to come within a few seconds of my Utah nationals PB in the 3k, at the Pettit one weekend, so that was rather cool! I would love to race more this year. I’ll have to optimize my ice time and train hard off the ice…

Cycling was a looonnnggg season this year, I started racing in April already to try to get ready for the Nature Valley Grand Prix. I needed to upgrade from a cat 4 from last season and get to be a cat 2 if I was to be included, so I had a prolific career as a cat 3: in one race! With a lot of rallying and support from my team (Flanders/Minneapolis Bicycle Racing Club) I was able to get the upgrade approved. Whew!! This was the first time I ever belonged to a team before, so the whole summer was a great big learning experience. Really. On the track, I was more laid back this summer than last, since more of my focus was on the road. having been “Track Rider of the Year” last season at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, MN, I was more than happy to help my sister Heidi achieve that spot this year and take second, myself. :D

Melissa did not even mention, she had a huge triumph in winning one of the pro 1-2-3 women’s races at Superweek. I love this photo. That crazy amazing moment, of “win”!

Another Speedskater who has been rocking, is Colton Barrett, shown here on the left, racing national team Skater Paul Dyrud in Minnesota (thanks to his family for the photos).

The strength that Colton built skating in Roseville (mental and physical) came in handy at track nationals this year, as he won the junior national cycling championship in the match sprint. Go Colton!!!

This is the “glow” stage after a win-

It’s just amazing, so many cyclists out there, so few speedskaters, and we do pretty dang well!

(I’ve been looking for some of the newspaper articles I know were written about Colton, and can’t find them, anyone have a link?)

Self Portrait with 405lbs

Olympic trials are 47 days away, and I am feeling stronger in the gym than I have been in about 3 years. Now the challenge is to turn strength into explosive pressure into the ice. Being strong unfortunately does not mean you can skate a corner worth a damm, but it’s a start.

I’ve hidden my technical flaws for a long time behind raw power, and only skated a qualifying time for Olympic trials in the 500m so far, I’ll have several chances to qualify for the 1,000m in October.

Wish me luck. I -should- be able to do it.

I’ve spent so many words here trying to describe why speedskaters do this insane sport. If I only knew the worlds to express how I felt for a few reps today in the weight room today: It’s a lovely thing, when lots of hard training starts to come together, your race season is about to begin, and hope is in the heart.