a brief look into Brian’s quest for Olympic glory
I started speed skating when I was about ten years Old at Northbrook Speed Skating Club. I was playing hockey at the time and I liked to go fast. When I tried speed skating I loved the competitive nature of the sport.
A Passion Was Born
When I started I just so happened to start at the right club at the right time. There was a great coach, Rob Darrow, who had a really fun and competitive short track program which kept about 7 or 8 skaters involved in the sport even up to today. Three of those skaters became Olympians and one of those Olympians, Lana Gehring, graduated from the same class and same high school as me.
About two years after I started I met my coach and four time Olympian, Nancy Swider-Peltz. She has been my coach ever since. We have always worked well together and she is one of the most dedicated and hard working people I have ever met. She has stayed on the ice for long hours working on technical drills with me when I was young, has drove up with us to Milwaukee and has been on all of my international competitions. Her daughter and son, Nancy Jr. and Jeff Jr. have been great to train with and I have became great friends with them as well. The four of us have always made a great team. Nancy Jr. also made the Vancouver Olympic team.
Speed Skating and Life
Through out middle school and the beginning of high school, speed skating was always my primary sport and my main focus. However I was always involved in many other activities. I was in boy scouts, track, cross country, volleyball, soccer, Lacrosse and I swam in an outdoor swim team along with being a member of a snowboard club. Each year I became more and more dedicated to speed skating.
Starting sophomore year speed skating turned into something more than just a sport for me. It was a lifestyle. My parents were driving me back and forth between Milwaukee and school. I would leave a period early from school and head up to Milwaukee, most of the time I would do homework in the car ride up, and eat dinner on the car ride home. I would also come to school a period late in order to fit a workout in the morning as well. These were very difficult years to juggle the schedule and with out my parents it would not have been possible. I could not be happier to have a more dedicated family including my brother Stevie who has been really supportive and motivating the whole way.
Keeping up With School
Senior year, I ended up missing over three weeks of school.. And on top of it all, I did not find out that I would not be leaving until the day before I left. So I packed up my bags, told my teachers I was not going to be around for a couple weeks, and took off for Norway. This was all very difficult to make up but somehow by the end of high school I still graduated with a 3.7 only taking two honors classes.
Don’t Give Up
When the season was over, I took a couple of weeks off but the only thing on my mind was the Olympic trials. I knew it would take a lot of effort to make the team so I deferred my first year of college just to train. I started ramping training up harder and earlier than ever. About two months into training I herniated a disc in my lower back. I saw a doctor and he told me that I should not get into the skating position, I was devastated considering almost all of my workouts I could no longer do. Not only that, I had a team pursuit camp coming up in two weeks that would be crucial in order to win a medal. I had to get creative with my workouts, I could not just sit around and wait for my injury to heal. I started doing workouts that would be unheard of for most speed skaters. I started doing wall sits, and upright biking at a workout center, swimming, and doing all of my weight workout upright.
My back injury never fully went away but I learned how to train and deal with it. At fall world cup trials, I was more nervous than I have ever been. I ended up qualifying for the world cup circuit which involves being on the road for 9 weeks and traveling around the world(Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Calgary and Salt Lake City). This was also very important to make the team pursuit as well as earning the spot that I would have to compete for in the 1500.
I finally made the team at the end of the long and stressful yet exciting season. I qualified in the 1500 and team pursuit in Salt Lake City, Utah December 29, 2009.
A Dream Come True
One month later I was in Vancouver, I could not have been any happier just to be there. I enjoyed every day of it. I raced the 1500 about half way through the Olympics and finished 18th which was an OK finish for me. In the team pursuit we had no expectations of winning a medal. Our 4 person team was a wide variety of skaters with different coaches, different ages and skating styles who came together for that race even though nobody believed in us.
I was rested in the first round but in the second round we were up against the Dutch who were heavily favored over us considering they had two gold medalists and were consistently winning all of the world cups. Some how when we crossed the finish line we won, it was truly a miracle, It caught me totally by surprise and I did not even realize that we won until I was about half way into the turn.
A Great Ending
Winning that silver medal was more than I ever could have expected at the Olympics. Shortly after I went to Russia and became Junior World Champion in the 1500 and 1000.
To Be Continued
I plan to continue skating and train for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with my two team mates Jeff, Nancy, and my Coach Nancy Swider-Peltz. I will also go to Marquette University starting in the fall. Even though speed skating is not a school sport, I will still compete and train at the Pettit National Ice Center while attending college.