Baselga Di Pine

Awaking from the turbulent dream of international travel, the rough ministrations of an Altalia 747 spits me out, punch drunk, jet lagged, into a strange country where everyone is skinny and dresses very well.

Must be Italy.

One sleep in a hotel bed, wake, one cup of tremendous Italian coffee (taste, not size) and I look out the window, to see this—

(this is a panorama, click on it for the big version)

This is no dream. Vinyards, mountains, gorgeous outdoor ice. The facility that Enrico Fabris calls home. I am living a blessed life.

In a few hours, am skating with Dutch, Canadians, Australians, Easy laps & a few accels. My hotel is the building on the hill to the upper right.

Past the flags getting ready for the upcoming races. Feeling great, all those hours at the rink this year. It feels worth it right now.

I will race my heart out, and have an outside chance at the podium. But today, the skating was so perfect, I almost don’t care. It is that good.

Here is a YouTube… ugh… Jet lag sucks, I need sleep.

Zen-10 Questions, Travis Jayner

Even though Travis Jayner trains in Salt Lake City, I really got to know him in Mexico City during a speedskating exhibition we were both part of.

I wrote about that very unusual trip here, here, here, here, and here. It was fitting that I really got to know Travis in such an unique place for speedskating, this is because Travis is an unusual guy; in person he is deeply thoughtful, sincere & funny.

You would never suspect that this gentle fellow is a world-class athlete in a very aggressive, dangerous sport like short track.

Welcome to the Blog Travis!

Thank you Andrew. It is a pleasure.

1. Your parents were out hiking with your brother, and were stalked by a big angry daddy moose out on the trail (visual evidence below). How is having ambitions for the Olympics like stalking, or being stalked by, something so huge?

Well, that’s an interesting way of looking at it and I would have to agree with you, having ambitions of the Olympics is like chasing or stalking something huge.

The Olympics is the competition of competitions for amateur athletes. The competition is so big that sometimes it doesn’t seem real, it seems like qualifying for the Olympics can only happen in dreams.

2. One thing I admire about short trackers is how they deal with the pressure, uncertainty, and danger of the sport. How have you learned to cope with it over the years & adjust your mindset to give the best chances on race day?

As a short track skater I know the dangers are there but I also try to focus on what I can control. Focus on the task at hand and your mind will keep from wandering in to the “what ifs” of short track.

3. You are clearly having a career year, what was the Olympic trials experience like for you?

The Olympic trials were the most mentally challenging/exhausting thing I have done to date. Every individual race seemed like an entire competition and we raced each distance twice and raced 2 time trials so it felt like a years worth of competitions condensed in to one week.

4. I love the t-shirt your supporters have made. I do believe you are dead serious about this.

I love this shirt too. For me this shirt is not just about skating, it is about life.

5. Send me a photo that feels like “you” to you. Something that speaks to this time in your life. One on the ice, and one off.

6. Tell us something surprising about yourself that those of us who know you through skating would never have suspected:

I once worked a summer job at Dairy Queen, and the summer after that I drove a forklift in the shipping department at Armstrong World Industries. Both were great summer jobs.

7. How do you stay mentally strong and physically ready, during grueling all-day short track meets.

I just take things one race at a time and try never to get ahead of myself.

8. Your father was a short track skater, and was US & North American champion in 50’s & 60’s. In some alternate universe, imagine you & your father, both at your best, skating a relay together. Would it be more awesome to get a push from your dad to set up your race-winning pass, or would you rather give your dad that winning push & watch him win the race?

Travis Jayner: What a great question. I never had the chance to see my father race when he was at his best but from the stories I have heard about his ability to pass at the end of races, even when it looked like there was no space for him to make a pass, it would be my pleasure to give my father that winning push and watch him cross the line first.

Jack Jayner: Compared to my lifetime-best of 40.1 sec. for the 440 yard [1/4 mile], Travis is going about 17% faster in the 500 meter [546.8 yard] today. Your anchorman is your faster man so, from that view, Travis brings ‘er home.

Also, he’s better-spoken, better-looking, and more empathetic than me, and so is worth more in the endorsement market – which helps keep the family afloat despite corporate CEOs best attempts to ‘Titanic’ us all. Score two for Travis.

Then there’s the practical matter: it wouldn’t be aesthetic, or sanitary in a public place, to have a lightening bolt splat into a chunkasaurous with two laps to go. But if over-the-top ego wins it, I get the honor! Place your bets, and no fair bribing the coaches.

This photo by Tony Bernato, shows Jack Jayner in the white sweater and black gloves making an inside pass to win the Junior Boys 220 yard final at the 9th Annual Winter Ice Carnival, Wollman Memorial Ice Skating Rink in Central Park, New York City. January 16, 1960.

Junior boys were 12, 13 and 14 years old back then. The racing course was called the “safety track” - it was 110 yards long, parallelogram-shaped and had 4 blocks. There are eight racers in this 2 lap final. Not much protective gear back then.

9. As part of the US national team, you have lived in Marquette, Colorado Springs, and now Salt Lake. You are often on long, exhausting road trips to races. Do you ever feel like a skating nomad? What is home?

I really enjoy traveling and I feel very honored to have had the opportunity to race and compete in so many foreign countries. Of course, when you are on the road racing for a couple weeks or a month it is nice to return home.

Home for me is in 2 places. Here in Salt Lake City, where I live, spend the majority of my time and train to be the best short track speed skater possible.

Home is also where I grew up in New Brunswick. A lot, not all, of who I am as a person came during the years I lived in NB so, a little bit of “Home” will always be there.

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

All three.

Short track is amazing for these very aspects you mention. You have to be strong in all three.

You need to be physically strong to be able to compete in the amount of races we compete in during a competition.

You also have to be physically strong to be able to keep technique together so that you are being as efficient as possible and at the same time keeping your mind and emotions in check.

There are a lot of races in short track, you need to keep your emotions pretty even and not like a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs.

11. What is really great about right now, what is really hard?

Opportunity and Expectations. The opportunity I have is great. I am going to represent the greatest country in the world at the Winter Olympics and I am expected to win.

It is great to be in the moment I am in right now, I am really living the dream you could say. I have pushed so much to get to this point in my life and I am enjoying every minute of it.

12. Name 3 athletes that you admire, and why.

Roger Federer, Jon Olsson and Shani Davis. All three are great champions.

I admire Federer for a few of reasons. One is his determination to win. He seems unstoppable at times. He seems to play the game of Tennis smarter then anyone else. I also admire the way he improved himself mentally.

He used to have a very poor attitude and get frustrated by his own play when he was coming up in the tennis ranks. It wasn’t until he got control of his emotions that he started to win major championships.

Jon Olsson is a professional freestyle skier. I admire his creativity on the slopes, his lifestyle and his business savvy.

Jon always seems to be having fun when he is skiing and I think that is what makes him great. I also love the art and creativity in skiing. Pushing your body physically while being artistic at the same time. Awesome!

Last but not least, I admire Shani Davis.

Shani has changed the way Long track skaters skate and train. He is smart, he has the best eye for technique in the world and he does it all on his own. He doesn’t have a coach. He has many people who help him but when it comes to training he does what he thinks he needs when he thinks he needs it.

He is independent and self-reliant. In terms of results, Shani is as close to Eric Heiden as we will ever see. He can do it all and he has done it all. He is amazing and he is one of the most caring and genuine people I have ever met.

13. You are skating the 1000m and the relay at the games. Your body has become ready for this from a lifetime of effort. How are you training your mind to be ready?

I am trying to see these races at the games as races anywhere else. Short track is short track whether it is the Olympics or a local competition.

14. No elite speedskater steps to the starting line alone, so many help along the way. Here is your chance to say thanks to those who have been there for you:

  • The coaches of the Riverview Speed Skating Club who got me started.
  • The Galliot/Black household
  • Kevin Artichuk
  • The Montreal International Speed Skating Club
  • My friends from Riverview and Montreal who have encouraged me all along
  • The Bedfords
  • The Midland Speed Skating Club
  • My current coaches and teammates, impossible without all of you.
  • Steve Blick at Oakley
  • Randy Olshen at H2O Overdrive/Innovative Health Solutions
  • And, of course, my family

Haiku Speed round.

1. You are a painter as well as a skater, here is a good place for some of your work:

2. What is your favorite ice workout ST workout, that is a regular part of your training diet.

I love it all and in short track I think you have to.

3. Who are the 3 speedskaters you would pick to help pack a U-haul with, and share pizza & beer with afterwards.

Alex Izykowski, Ryan Bedford and J.P. Kepka

4. A quote that gets you fired up:

from Lance Armstrong

5. Movie you never get tired of seeing?

Lost in Translation.

6. What was the best Halloween costume you ever had as a kid?

I was “King Travis” one year with a homemade metal crown.

7. Name a really expensive habit you wish you could afford?


8. When wandering past a Barnes & Noble endless magazine rack, what ones do you reach for and flip through?

Freeskier or Powder

9. Most full time athlete struggles with injuries, what have been your weak spots?

If I have any “weak spots” they would have to be my hips. They just seem to be tighter then a speed skater would normally want their hips to be.

10. If you could travel through a time-tunnel and give your teenage self a few words of sage advice, what would it be?

Patience Travis, Patience.

Good luck Travis! We are all rooting for you in the O-Games!

Bonus pic: This is Travis in Mexico, with a young figure skater. It shows what a terrific ambassador for speedskating he is, and also touching his left hip to the ice, showing some serious ST ninja skills.

Zen-10 Questions: Tucker Fredricks

Tucker Fredricks does not get the respect that he deserves as one of America’s best skaters.

Mass media has a short attention span, and other stories sucking up all the oxygen in the room, but if you look at world cup results, I believe in the past 4 years only Shani Davis has stood on more podiums for the USA than Tucker.

Here is Tucker, at the salt Lake world cup this year- even with a slip on the first turn, he was 3rd in this race.

Tuck was the overall world cup 500 champion two seasons ago, is in raging form this year, and is on the short list of people who are true medal contenders in Vancouver.

So why are my google news alerts for Speedskating filled up with news of other skaters?

Tucker himself is part of the answer, he is a low-key kind of guy, but it’s still wrong; so this interview is my small way to redress the media imbalance.

Welcome to the Blog Tucker!

Tucker: Other than the olympics, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for!

1. You won “fastest skater” competitions at youth hockey tournaments as a kid. When did you realize that you could be a very good speedskater?

I always thought i would be good at whatever sport I did. i started speedskating at age 8. Probably realized that I could be really good at 14 or 15 years old.

2. You have worked with Ryan Shimabukuro since you were 13. You have moved into the upper echelons of this sport together. What are the lessons was he drilling you on back then? Have they changed as you matured?

As a young skater, still in school, it was grades first. If you didn’t make the grade, you didn’t make the cut. Now, since we’ve been together so long, he trusts my judgment in the training aspect. If I feel I need more, I can do more. If I’m tired, he’ll let me sit one out.

3. I remember the day you broke Hiroyasu Shimizu’s 500m rink record at the Pettit national ice center. You made a statement that roughly said: “Well, Shimizu drives a Ferrari and I drive an old Mazda”

Does this show the challenges that American speedskaters undergo?

Shimizu was the first Japanese winter Olympian to win a gold medal so that made him rich and famous in japan. we are one of the few countries in the world if not the only one that does not get government funding and sponsors are scarce for Olympic athletes. So yeah its a little hard for us.

4. I have heard from other athletes, that the first time you go to the Olympics, it’s often about the experience/participation. But if you dedicate yourself to going over and over, you are sacrificing because you want to win. Does that feel true for you?

I don’t think I am sacrificing anything. I’m doing this because I love to do it. My parents are the ones that made the sacrifices.

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

For the past 4 years, training hard has been fun for me, so the physical part is out. I try to block out things that make me emotional because that just leads to stress. So that’s out. I’m always working on technique. That’s the hard part.

6. Send me a photo that feels like “you” to you.

A perfect day in collalbo italy a few weeks before the 2006 olympics. From L to R, Kip Carpenter, a yawning Casey Fitzrandolph, Joey Cheek, me, K.C. Bouttitte

(Andrew Note: This is one of the most beautiful rinks there is, here is my picture from the tram that passes by the rink.)

7. Tell us something surprising about you or your life that those of us who know you through skating would never have suspected:

my aunt studied our family tree and i’ve been told we are directly related to sir isac newton

8. What is going on “under the hood” as you step to the start line in a 500m. What are you focusing on, what is your mental state?

Every time i step to the line i think i can win no mater how im feeling. i think i just tell myself “you got this”

9. It seems that more and more elite LT skaters are doing a ton of ST skating. I’ve seen you throw down hard on the ST yourself. Why do you think this is important?

It’s great for getting strength in the turns and over emphasizing the technique.

10. Sprinters are the ultimate technicians. Who are some of the athletes you admire, and why?

Shani’s turns. Nagashimas fluidity, Jojis straight aways. I just like watching them.

11. The USA has incredible mojo with the 500m at the Olympics. Fitzrandolph & Cheek, and before them Heiden, Mcdermott, Henry, Shea, Jewtraw. We are 7 out of 20 for gold medals in this men’s event.

Do you feel this pressure?

no pressure. i just want to make it 3 in a row for the U.S.A

Haiku Speed round.

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

yup. bauer hockey skates.

2. Favorite sprint-centric workout that you regularly do?

500m intervals

3. Favorite recovery food after a hard day?

mcdonalds. just for fun.

4. A quote that gets you fired up:

someones going to win. might as well be me. -Tucker Fredricks

5. Favorite city on the world cup circuit to find really good food?

I like japanese food, so, Nagano

6. Movie you never get tired of seeing?

dumb and dumber

7. What was the best Halloween costume you ever had as a kid?

power rangers. green ranger.

8. When wandering past a Barnes & Noble endless magazine rack, what ones do you reach for and flip through?

probably just keep walking..

9. If you could travel through a time-tunnel and give your teenage self a few words of sage advice, what would it be?

I could tell myself something but i probably wouldn’t listen

10. Most full time athlete struggles with injuries, what have been your weak spots?

lower back L4 L5 siatic nerv(SP) and shin fatigue

11. Why did you keep buying me drinks before the hall of fame banquet in April of 08? I ended up sledgehammered thanks to you. You had just won the 500m World Cup overall, I should have been buying you the drinks!

Andrew, that was my contribution to your blog.

12. I hear a number of the elite skaters are also golfers. Who is the best? Who is the best trash talker on the course?

Chad Hedrick is the best i think. The last four times i played this year i would have given him a run for his money. Tyler Goff is the biggest talker but he hasn’t come through for me when I’ve been on his team. Sorry Ty…

I want to end this with wishing Tucker the BEST of luck.

You might not read a ton about him in the run-up to the games, but there is an excellent chance the whole USA will know who he is the day after the 500’s.

Ice, Courage, and Friendship.

Or, if you said this in Latin-
Glacies, Fortitudo, et Amicitia

That is the spirit of Masters Speedskating.

Illustrating that attitude, here is the USA masters team before the 2nd Masters sprint games, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Click on the picture for a bigger one. Matt Dinerstein will send me a much higher quality one shortly.

below is a list of all the USA athletes, not all of these are in this picture, as some are traveling at this moment.

Boris Leikin M55
Patricia Bohaty F40
Mike Anderson M40
Steven Desotell M55
Donna Eckert W50
Marian Furst W60
Gary Groen M60
Karri Kox W45
Anthony Christie M45
Andrew Love M35
Nat White M30
Martin Haire M45
Myron Yencha M45
Olusegun Sijuwade M50
Mark Nolan M55
Karen Verrone F50
Michael Hall M30
Tim Harris M55
Suzy Osum F45
Greg Oly M50
Chuck Osum M45
Bruce Conner M50
Marian Furst F50
Mark Nolan M55
Bill Armstrong M40
Jan Zurcher F55
Bruce Anderson M45
Jim White M65
Dan Greene M45
Chuck Hansell M60
Scott Nelson M50
Diane Crossfield F55
John Diemont M60
Verne Kappes M75
Dan Grant M45
Theron Sands M45
Tom Cole M45
Stephen Gunther M65
David Sutton M55
Roger Pozenik M45
Mark Yanagihara M35
Kathie Zapotocki F50
Carla Langenthal F35
Ken Huss M55
Glenn Corso M45
Matt Dinerstein M50

Here is a detail image of our t-shirt design-

wish us all luck tomorrow!

American Masters Allaround & Sprint

Yaknow what makes me really happy. The international family at a MASTERS speedskating event!

Just look at this mix of people & nations! (image grab is from the results)

So many good folks came over from Europe & North America to experience the fast ice of Salt Lake city.

So many interesting people & stories; Here is one of them.

Look closely at the scar on the back of Canadian Randy Plett’s neck-

I made a lot of jokes that this is Canada’s effort at downloading speedskating like that part of “the Matrix” where they downloaded skills through the plug in the back of a person’s neck.

In actuality, Randy crushed the vertebrae in his neck in a bike racing crash this summer. The doctors told Randy he would never skate again-

Not only is Randy back, but is also skating stronger than he has ever been on the ice!


American Brian Boudreau was also displaying matrix-like skills, including the fastest 1000m EVER at a masters event. Here he is ripping by the crowd at 35mph.

then after the day was over, surrounded by Dutch freinds, and the sparkly Italian, Sylvia Tassara.

Eva Rodansky’s days of full time training are far behind her. Now she manages a lab at the University of Utah. As I joked with her, now she is a true master, she has a professional job, and skates when she can.

Even so, Eva still can bring it, and set records in the women 30-35 category 500, 1000 & 1500m

Just look at the form of these two athletes for a moment. These are serious speedskaters, who really know what they are doing.

That is 60 year old Marian Furst from Salt Lake and 55 year old Joke Wittenberg of the Netherlands.

I’ve always thought that one of the hardest age groups to be in, in all of speedskating, is the older Master women. Simply because there are so few of them, so few “true peers” to race with, to talk with.

Marian told me during warmup skate on friday, surrounded by other masters, she did not feel so alone.

To know Olu is to love Olu. Here he is, on his way to a 1000m personal best. This powerlifting world champion is having a mixed year of results so far, but is ready for some breakout races.

RZ on the slideboard, imitating what she sees her daddy doing. She is not facing the right direction, but she is smiling, and that is more important than technique for a little kid! (and for most adults too…)

Nat White set the Allaround Short (500-1000-1500-3000) samalong record. He is the proud father of a 4 month old Jasper, and also has recently made a big jump in technique, to complete skating badass.

I present this image as visual evidence- What is even more impressive is he set his record after a night of food poisoning. His races were very consistent-

Tom Cole from the Midland club & Dutch skater Stephan Tellier from the Lekstreek club had a great battle in a 1000m race. Den Haag vs Petosky. Who won this 1000m duel? Tom came roaring back in the final turn, and it was almost a dead heat at the line, both skated personal bests.

(Stephan, do I have that right? or do you skate in Den Haag?)

Victor van den Hoff of the Netherlands is a hard guy to take a picture of. He is too damm fast. He also had a great weekend, taking multiple records on the fast ice. Victor uses the new Marchese LT blades as well.

When I congratulated him, he smiled and said “Well, I did move up in an age group“.

I have had senior skaters tell me that they are looking forward to turning 30, and racing masters events now, because of seeing guys like Victor tear it up.

Norwegian Nina Torset, with her son, and then rocking out the last lap of a 3k masters record.

Like Eva, Nina pretty much re-wrote the record book in the 35-40 age category.

Both Nina and Nat show that loving moms & Dad’s can also be cruise missiles of areodynamic speed. Nina used to train in Calgary, and has the technique to show for her years of deadication to the sport.

From Left to right, Vladimir Letunov, Boris Leikin, Sergej Avdejev, and yours truly.

I met Sergej Avdejev many years ago, skating together in the blizzards of Inzell. He and I have crossed paths at many masters events, and always greet each other warmly.

I do not speak a word of Russian, and Sergej does not speak a word of english. But that is ok, we share a language of skating, and the deep respect that comes from it.

Skating with Andrew

I usually point my camera at other people, but today a masters skater, Ryan Border, showed up at the oval, and pointed a helmet cam at me.

This was about an 80% effort, My legs are still very tired from this past weekend, but my technique was (for me) pretty on.

I was probably up to 28 second lap speed by the end of the turn (around 32mph), about 2 notches from my top speed.

I talk a ton about technique on this website. After 9 years of devoting my life to speedskating, all of my good & bad habits I have are visible in this 200m accel.

(just for the technique geeks, here is another one, 60% effort, just trying to skate precise).