Speedskaters & Musicians

This a joint blog post my brother and I cooked up together. It appears on his blog as well.

Currently David is a professional Musician in Austin, Texas, and I am a national caliber Speedskater in Salt Lake City. We both have moved to the towns that attract & focus the top of our professions.

This is in great respect because Mom & Dad did something incredibly right in raising us: they always encouraged us to follow our passions with 100% commitment, and also taught with the example of their own amazing lives.

This has had tremendous positive effects on us.. Thanks Mom & Dad! Really… thanks! We were very lucky kids! and now happy adults.

This photo is the two of us at our happiest, myself skating a painful 1000m personal best during Olympic trials (1:13.22), and David bringing a crowd to its feet with a blistering blues solo. (David’s note: Actually, there wasn’t a crowd. I discussed this gig here)

We often talk about the challenges of our occupations; recently we made up a list of the similarities & differences for your enjoyment.

Frostbite on the face is rarely an occupational hazard for musicians

In Speedskating, if you have a bad race, or just aren’t very good at it, most people will still politely cheer your effort. In Music, you are greeted with, at best, polite indifference, and at worst, shouts of “You Suck! Get off the stage!”

Effort is no guarantee of success, however it does usually help.

There are few groupies following speedskaters around, and the few groupies there are, are only interested in medal winners… Many crappy bands have starry-eyed groupies… Although to get the hot ones you need to be pretty good.

Speedskaters never get full glasses of beer chucked at their heads by rowdy members of the crowd…

Speedskaters will never be accomplices in the horror that is Muszak.

Being a Gearslut is a common side effect of being a musician and speedskater, and neither is ever completely happy with their gear.

Speedskaters never get free drinks from the bar. Nor would most want them.

Both Skaters & musicians have problems with their reputation & drugs, however no musician was ever asked to “pass” a drug test after a great gig…

Speedskaters are often up waaaay too early to train, Musicians are often out waaaay too late after gigs.

Speedskaters will usually have one main pair of skates, they may try different stuff from time to time, and maybe even find that elusive perfect pair of skates but really only use one primary pair at a time. Musicians often will own several different instruments. (Note from David: I should know. I have 11 guitars. But I need more.)

Good co-ordination is important for both occupations.. however, most speedskaters don’t skate better after a free drink or two from the bar…

Musicians get heckled by spectators: there isn’t much speedskater heckling. (What would that sound like? How about “You skate like a Flamingo on crack!)

If you’re world class at speedskating, you’ll can make some money being sponsored by a Dutch bank, win a medal, stuff like that. Being world class at music is no guarantee of anything.

Speedskaters only play to sold out arenas once very 4 years, but for those concerts, a measurable percentage of the world is watching..

Musicians are usually quite desirable by members of the opposite sex… and can be in AWFUL shape with a great “moontan” -and it makes no difference.

No musician will ever be on a Wheaties box. But then again, no Speedskater will ever be on the cover of Rolling Stone. And if he/she was, it wouldn’t be because of skating. It would be because they were skaters who acted like rock stars.

Both drummers and marathon speedskaters tend to end gigs covered in drool…

Many Speedskaters move live & train in exotic places like Salt Lake, Calgary, Hamar, and Milwaukee. Musicians can be anywhere, but are often in cool towns like Austin, LA, New York, or San Francisco. No one was ever excited about Milwaukee during the winter.

Musicians have to haul a LOT more stuff to gigs, unless you are a singer.

No Speedskater ever smashed his skates to bits in celebration during a good gig (or set them on fire ‘a la Jimi Hendrix)

To improve the aerodynamics of a musician’s car, remove the “pizza hut” sign on top. Ask a speedskater how to improve the aerodynamics on their car, and they will stop and think about it seriously for a few seconds (however a triathlete would spend multiple thousands of dollars actually doing it)…

It’s rare to see cheesy, mindless commercialization of speedskating, and the skaters are pissed about that!!

If the Rock band Kiss ever made up a short track relay team, they would win every race on intimidation factor alone!! Would you throw a tight pass against someone with who looks like one of these guys???

Being “smooth” is a desirable goal for both groups….

There is no MTV for speedskating, except in Holland…..

Of course MTV doesn’t actually play music any more anyway.

An excess of snotty attitude usually covers lack of talent or poor self-image in both occupations…

In both occupations, the best have fantastic technique…

There has never been a mosh-pit during a world cup… except the celebrations in Holland when a Dutch guy wins….

Both Eurovison and the European speedskating championships are prestigious competitions that have launched many to fame, fortune, and renown, and are often greeted by those outside of Europe with “huh?? What is that??”

12 Responses to “Speedskaters & Musicians”

  1. What a funny post! I like imagining the things that don’t happen…people chucking beer at us, heckling (I have told Dave he could do that, but he won’t), musicians flocking to places that are extra cold in winter…

  2. I’m sure I’ll think of more things on this topic, but here are a few:

    1. Let’s talk about Milwaukee for a minute. During my years of exile from speedskating, I got the same kind of reception from the people running time trials at the Pettit as did Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics from the Milwaukee police!

    2. It’s true that speedskaters don’t smash their skates in celebration of a GOOD race. However, have you ever seen Bart Veldkamp after a BAD race?

    3. KISS as a short track relay team??? Don’t worry about them. Gene Simmons’ tongue would drag on the ice and slow them down!

    4. An excess of snotty attitude never enabled me to capitalize on my speedskating career in any way, even though some people think that it did.

    5. Both rock and roll and speedskating can be ways of escaping from graduate school, flipping burgers, or any other job in the real world. And either way, I have found, you will be at risk of being called a “SELLOUT” for a variety of reasons!

  3. Hey, Apolo was on Rolling Stone. hahaha

    But nevertheless, GREAT post!!!!

  4. glad folks are enjoying this..

    Eva, at the 2002 olympic games, after his dissapointing 10k, I actually did see legendary speedskater Bart Veldkamp hurl his skates a good 30 feet across the concrete… he was pissed…

    hmmm, never thought to link that in my mind with Pete Townshed of the Who…

    wouldn’t gene simmons’ tounge have a zamboni like effect?? during long short track relays, the ice gets really rutted up…

  5. …how could I forget this one…

    If a rock band is getting screwed over by their record label, they can sign with a different label. But if a speedskater is getting screwed over by their NGB, then they either have to quit or go skate for another country!!! Does that suck, or what?

  6. oh wait! There’s more!

    I think that hearing Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” every 10 minutes at the Oval Lingotto at the Torino World Cup last December was what finally broke my will.

  7. (somebody stop me!!!)

    Whether you’re talking about a 1980’s “hair metal” has-been or the daughter of an Olympic medallist, you’re sure to find the kind of person who whines and cries about getting their ass kicked by a science geek who doesn’t belong in their world!

  8. Both sound like something that, all said and done, you do because you can’t NOT do it.

  9. Oh Eva,

    Are you trying to make me laugh uncontrolably with that last one? Everytime I think about that I laugh so hard. Who’s weak and deserve what they get? hahaha

  10. Eva,
    remember when we were having coffee and I related that Billy Idol Interview quote, where he defends still being a middle-aged Punk because there’s still valid reasons for being pissed-off?
    I think there’s still time for you to form your own punk-rock Band, as Front-Woman, and if so, when you got the Rage, guitars aren’t all you’d break….
    Greg

  11. That’s right, Steph! You have the photo evidence.

    Greg, you really shouldn’t encourage me! I had my chance to escape, and I failed.

    I’ve learned that here in the lab, you can’t go around breaking glassware when you’ve had a bad experiment, and that all of the 200-proof ethanol has to be accounted for!

    …but just wait until my boss makes me start doing tissue culture experiments. I just might run away screaming!!! Carl found the perfect band for me. It’s called “Vermin.” He says I can be Rae C. Rodentsky, of the band Vermin.

  12. Thinking of Vermin leads me to ponder about the letter “V.” Just the other day, I realized that the word “Victim” and the word “Victory” both begin with “vict.” How ironic that these two terms go hand-in-hand with Eva’s experiences with USS.

    Granted this is not a platform for religiosity, neither am I preaching, but I’ve heard the paraphrase hundred of times in my life, “Vengence is mine, sayeth the Lord.”
    Sure, there was definite positive influence, from Eva’s postings on The Protocol, perhaps upon those who ousted Marquard, Crowe, Cushman, and perhaps others.

    For a little extra sting from the rat trap, take the last two letters from both words and you have “miry”–an apt description of the turmoil between those who deserved better under the auspices of USS, and USS itself…

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