where have I been?

20 days without a post? in the run up to the Olympics? whoa! Where have I been?

Here is what I have been devoting my time too, 2 MAJOR masters speedskating events!

here is the website I built to promote/support these events- mastersspeedskating.org.

As the USA rep to the IMSSC, I view it as my job to grow this sport, and I’ve worked my tail off in the past 16 months on these two events. This weekend in Salt Lake, 66 athletes from 10 nations are attending this event.

Next weekend in Milwaukee is the Masters Sprint Games. Skaters know it as the masters world championships, as that is what they really are, even thought the ISU will not grant masters speedskaters the same rights masters swimmers, cyclists, runners, and skiers have.

It’s an amazing experience to be a race organizer/volunteer. So many good people step up to the plate, and make events happen. I highly recommend it.

On the ice yesterday, the session was filled with Dutch, Russian, Norwegian, German, and Canadian masters athletes whizzing around.

Near the end of the session a HUGE man came up to me and said “hello, I am Vladamir, from Ruuusshia… 40-45 age grooouuup… how old youuu?”.

I smiled, so glad he was here, and thought of the moment when this race was just a proposal on my laptop, over a year ago.

Welcome to Canada

one the wall of the Utah Olympic oval weight room, an article from the Wall Street Journal.

Chosen by the author to represent Canada in this article are Canadian Speedskaters Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes.

I take all of this pre-Olympic trash talking as seriously as what my brother and I do to each other before a night of air hockey at a bar. We are family, and that comes first.

And because we are family, we can push each other’s buttons, talk some serious smack about each other, end up the evening drunk & with bloody knuckles (David & I take our air hockey quite seriously) and these moments strangely re-enforce our brotherhood.

What can I say but men are strange.

The family of nations is equally strange & wonderful during the Olympic games. You can feel intense national pride one moment, chant USA! USA! USA! at the top of your lungs, and the next find yourself granting deep respect and admiration for athletes from all over the world.

You find yourself celebrating with them, after a moment earlier, cheering against them.

This WSJ article is an academic exercise for most people reading it. But for that tiny number of human beings who are USA Olympians, it’s a challenge to train hard, focus, and get ready…

Can you feel it? the Olympics are almost here.

39 at 39 at 39

Some crazy ideas are good, some good ideas are crazy,

Some good ideas are simply good, and some crazy is just crazy.

On the day I turned 39, I tried to skate 39 laps at a 39 seconds a lap velocity.

That idea had a whole lot of good & crazy mixed in together.

For most of this experience, instead of thinking about fighting father time, I just suffered like a pig, and only saw Eric’s skates in front of me (he was skating 38!).

Eric’s supple skating style is much better at this kind of thing than my sprint-centric-flat-rocker push. It also does not help that as a sprinter, who never does more than 6 laps in a row, my back gave out about 15 laps in.

But through sheer crazy, we fought through it and finished. Ending up with a high 40 second average lap speed, Eric would have easily been under 39. But he finished with me.

Good friends are always there for you, especially when your good ideas are crazy, or turn crazy, or were crazy from the start, even when they are good things to do.

Does Eric look like a superhero? or am I crazy? or did I just lose some brain cells, or most of them, in those last few laps?

Olympic trials, Part II, day 4

For many people, this is winter; An annoyance viewed from a heated box.

Modern humans are encouraged to live like veal within our boxes, addicted to bleating phones, and insulated from what the world pours down upon us.

There was a time when all speedskating was outdoors. Olympic trials would have been very different outdoors on a day like this.

The old timers WERE tougher because of this, and have every right to feel a little smug at how they fought the elements.

However, they never had to skate the freakish lap times necessary in the modern era to make an Olympic team. The game is just different now, both are/were supremely hard.

Of the 4 slots earned on this day, 3 of the 4 crashed or almost crashed, because of lactic-acid poisoning.

Women’s 1000m

Michigan Skater Kelly Gunther had put up the time to beat from the first running of the 1000. A low 1:17 was the time to beat, very few women in the field had that kind of speed-

However Rebekah Bradford was skating the race of her life during her shot at the 1000m, she was clearly on a path for a low 1:16, exiting the final turn, she was so deep in lactic-acid crazy land she crashed. A full-on “faceplant squid” as a spectator told me. Even sliding 40 meters, she recorded the 3rd best time of the day.

Kelly took the line, and skated well, an almost identical time to her first run. A low 1:17. This is the smile of someone who is thinking they just made the Olympic team.

But when a skater has an unintentional fall, although they are out of the overall samalong for the event, they get to do a reskate for team selection purposes.

This happens all the time at US championships. Almost never does an Olympic slot hang in the balance. After an all out effort like a 1000, your body is shredded. I thought Beckah had absolutely no chance.

And she goes out and skates a personal best, almost a full second faster than Kelly’s race!

Unbelievable. The crowd went absolutely berserk. Here she is about halfway through, and later with her coach, Ryan Shimabukuro, who definitely deserves props not just for physically preparing Beckah, but technically, and mentally, to go out & skate like that.

I don’t know Kelly Gunther, but I can only imagine the emotional whiplash must have been just horrible. That is trials though, a merciless soul-blender that produces an Olympic team.

There were grumblings about rules & the “Minnesota Mafia”, but reskates are done all the time, no matter the place in the standings. If you unintentionally crash, you get a reskate. And also, karmically, Beckah was clearly the strongest skater.

Men’s 1000m

Tucker Fredricks already has his Olympic team spot in the 500m. He has so much speed now, in an early pair of the 1000m, he sets down a scorching 1:09.22 He was in a world of hurt, and almost dumped it in the final turn as well.

time passes, Life intervenes. I love my job, but… must… finish… post!!)

So many good men threw themselves into the 1000m race effort. Chris Needham taking the last steps of his outstanding speedskating career. He threw down one of his fastest 1000m efforts ever, and harking back to his ST past, did a hand-down pivot the whole final turn.

The shape reflected in the ice in the inner lane is Chris’s wife Carrie. She has taken every step with him. All the joy & pain. It’s fitting her reflection is right next to Chris as he gives everything in his final race.

I know this next shot is out of focus (damm camera!) but it shows their deep bond. No one goes to the starting line alone, and Chris you have some amazing people alongside you as your take the next steps in your life

Joey Lindsey and Robert Lawrence have known & raced each other for years in short track. They are good friends.

This is helpful; because there is a good chance these two extraordinarily talented young men will have to do a lot of traveling together on future world cup teams.

Joey was 5th overall, and Robert cut 2 seconds of his previous PB.

Note the size of Joey’s water jug. Hydrate or die!

But the fastest man among the fast men today was Nick Pearson. Like most of the folks who raced the world cup circuit, Nick was very tired, and did not skate to his highest standards.

Nick wryly remarked to me “I skated a 1:08 in 2005, and did not make the Olympic team. This time I go 1:09 and make it.”

This is his transition step into a low-25 second lap inner turn. This must be HUGE pressure to control. Congrats Nick.

Very tight final scoreboard. 4 men all within a tiny, tiny margin of each other. Just one goes to the games.

Women’s 5k

As expected, Maria Lamb was the class of the event. In her final shot at this Olympic team, she really went for it. She was quite a bit ahead of the rest of the field at the bell lap.

During her final turn, through the lactic haze, she stumbled, almost crashed.

Righting herself, I could see the look on her face “did I just screw up my chance at the Olympic team!?!?!?”

What do we watch sports for? We watch for moments like this, for Maria fighting through the mistake, and urging her siezed legs to take those last few steps, and make the Olympic team by the slimmest of margins.

Her tears from after the 3k were now tears of joy.

Men’s 10,000m

LT speedskating is a mesmerizing blend of precision and pain. It’s just you & that electronic eye.

The men’s 10k is a sufferfest. To win this involves skating almost 28mph for 16 minutes. Its an incredible test and the specialists in this event are a breed apart. No one EVER questions their toughness. I’ve skated 4 10k’s. Each is a memory that will never leave me.

Pat Meek threw everything into this, led Trevor Marsicano for much of their race, and paid for it. You can see the marks his skates made as he was on his way to collapse. A 20 second personal best was not enough.

Scenes like this are common immeadiately after a 10k.

Ryan Bedford & Paul Dyrud have a lot of years in this sport. They started out suicide fast, after their first few laps, they were at least 5-6 seconds up on the leader, Trevor Marsicano.

Going into the last lap, Ryan still had several seconds in hand, but then he lost it. His body said “NO FREAKING WAY!” but his will was stronger.

I publish these images not to make fun of Ryan’s collapsing technique. This level of suffering and effort won him a slot on the Olympic team. I publish them to remind us all to skate, or face life, with courage like Ryan.

To “skate a Bedford” should mean something to everyone who saw this.

Here is final picture from trials. Ryan’s pair Paul Dyrud.

Step by step with Ryan almost all the way. Paul also threw down a huge personal best on the day it counted.

He is being comforted by his girlfriend, and in the distance, Ryan is skating towards the crowd that is still screaming & cheering for what he accomplished.


You lead me places I could never have imagined going, and are my teacher as much as I am yours.

Although I am not as strong on my skates as I once was, I am stronger in every other part of my being, because of what you ask of me.

Half pronounced words are tumbling constantly from your lips. I can’t wait to learn them, as badly as you want to say them clearly.

I broke a piece of hardended brown sugar in two, and gave you half. I ate mine in example; you very deliberately crumbled yours over the dog’s head. May our 2010 be filled with as much mutual laughter as that moment.