11 Consecutive Olympics: A Speedskating Dynasty?
In the sports world, columnists declare a sports dynasty is upon us every time a team, athlete, or coach has multiple appearances in his or her version of "the big show". The papers and sports channels clamor to tout their successes. However, a success story in amateur sports has been mostly ignored in St. Louis where area skaters have represented the USA in the last 11 consecutive Olympics games. Now, St. Louis skaters are positioning themselves to continue this great tradition while continuing to be mostly ignored.
Currently, three skaters from St. Louis are on track towards the national team and a 12th consecutive Olympics. Matt Plummer, Patrick Meek, and J.P. Kepka, all skaters of the St. Louis Metros Speed Skating Club, are performing very well in World and US competition. Matt and Patrick recently switched to long track and are having early success, including Matt's recent overwhelming win at the U.S. Junior Long Track Championships. J.P. Kepka, bronze medalist in the last Olympics, just took 4th in the World Cup Short Track championships 500m final.
While these skaters reap the rewards of their hard work and the countless hours donated by the club volunteers and former Olympians, I wonder if this is a dynasty. The newspapers don't seem to think it is worth noticing. The clubs and sport struggles to get any recognition or publicity that would help raise funds and recruit the next generation of skaters.
While I consider aloud if St. Louis has created a speed skating dynasty, I also ponder the future of speed skating in general. USS seems to be raiding the speed skating cupboard by going for inline skaters instead of expanding the sport. The inline speed skating sports seem to be shrinking with reduced participation and discontinuance of some inline events while I am hoping for expansion. I am optimistic thanks to growth in Asia and Europe, but I still must wonder where are we headed here in the US. Is this just a "dry spell" here in the US?