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53-Year-Old Speed Skater Attempts to Make US Olympic Team

timv's picture

Theron Sands is 53 and he skated in the 10,000 meters at the 2018 US Olympic Trials in Milwaukee on Thursday. I won't give away what happened beyond him reaching the qualifying standard for the trials (it takes about 10 seconds to find out) but here's a video made as part of his GoFundMe campaign while working toward it. There's a lot to appreciate about his training and preparation in here, even some wheeled skating.


eebee's picture

Pushing Backwards or Sideways

That's an inspiring video and story! Good for him. 

It has always looked to me as if long track ice skaters pushed more backwards (or at least 45 degrees from the straight line of Eddy Workshop famed "Air D"), than inline skaters. Perhaps pushing backwards is more of an indoor inline thing due to all the turns? Maybe outdoor inliners have more stretches of straight road  on which to try to perfect the sideways push and heel-wheel-last technique.  Maybe there are fewer outdoor inliners so a larger percentage of them took the Eddy workshop at some point? 

That big grassy bank in the video looks like heaven to me right now. 

timv's picture

I Noticed the Comment Too

... but I don't have your eye for skating form. That's an interesting observation and I'll have to try to watch more closely. Joey Cheek is big on skaters keeping their hips level and steady and getting pressure all the way through every push, which seems like another good thing to work on during casual skating.

eebee's picture

Stomping through the pavement.

Oh well that's very generous of you :-). 

I'm not sure if this is what you mean in what Joey Cheek recommended, but while I was out skating this weekend in very cold weather for Georgia (35 - 38 actual degrees F., 27 - 29 windchill if I plugged it in right), I found it very tough going on the uphills on the way back. As a diversion I imagined what it might be like to compete in cross country skiing, because no matter how difficult skating seemed at that moment, it had to be easier than that! I started trying to imitate that motion the best I could, minus the poles. This caused me to stomp harder on the pavement and push all the way through the stride. I shocked myself by picking up a lot of speed at that point (and also wore myself out).  So yes - definitely a good thing to try to remember the rest of the time.

I also thought more about this sideways on ice, backwards indoor issue, and concluded to myself that there's so much focus on turns with indoor I'm sure there's really no point worrying about a regular push. 

timv's picture

Food for thought

Much food for thought there, eebee. I watched some hockey technique videos (inspired by a Joey Cheek comment about hockey players who cross over to speed skating and how "easy on their skates" they are) and that's all about transitions, even learning to push straight back when accelerating from a dead stop.

On my recent Country Park visits, I've been thinking about how easy it is to fall into the habit of skating up the hills hard, then coasting the downhills and flats and maybe making a few flippy pushes while standing upright until the next hill. I'm trying to focus more on skating in a low position with full-length pushes, working on form and range of motion. It might not be the fast way around the park, or the easiest way, but I think it gives me more of what I go there for. And I often think about the effect of the free leg, swinging that quite heavy appendage, which I believe matters more than most realize.

Anyway, for your analysis enjoyment, here's video of the mighty Sven Kramer and his teammates in past years, including lots of inline skating beginning around the 3:00 mark.


(Be prepared to mute audio or be overcome by the Eurodisco soundtrack.)

One more thing re Theron Sands: I re-watched some of the US Olympic Trials, which I still had saved on my dvr, and noticed that he also competed in the 5000 meters event. His attempt wasn't televised but his time was in the results, and he finished 10th, notably 6 places lower and 18 seconds slower than four-time Olympian K.C. Boutiette, who at 47 years old is only 6 years younger than Sands!

eebee's picture

Training Video

That's one way to make sure your muscles are being worked out - fear of dropping weights on your head.  Very enjoyable video! Thanks. They do look a lot more ice-skatey on the road with their inlines, and it does look like they're maximizing the swing of the recovery leg. They are skating super low there. Good training inspiration!

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