Monday, May 18, 2009

Why do I love speedskating?

So often I am asked WHY I love speedskating so much. I'm just a woman from Texas who can hardly walk on dry, flat land without falling down. We have hardly any ice here, except in our DEEEEEEEEEEEEE-LICIOUS sweet tea, and you can bet NO ONE in my family supports this sport, but they aren't interested in most of what I do, so why should this be any different?

Unfortunately, since my bout with surgeries started two years ago, I haven't had much, if anything, to do with the sport, but when I did, I was happier than ever. Well, except when I was defending myself from psycho hanger-onners, whom I've never even seen in person, feel like calling me every name in the book, accusing me of committing all kinds of crimes I could never even imagine and breaking up my marriage. Other than that, I LOVED every minute of it. If I could, I would go back in a HEARTBEAT!!! And guess what? I can. It's just a matter of health and money. I've always said, "If I had enough money, I would start my own pro team." As it is, my first client, who retired after the 2007-2008 season due to injuries, just started a team, and I hear he's doing really well. And to be honest with you, with his talent and knowledge, it really would have been a waste for him NOT to do such a thing. I know I would have hired him if I had the money. But, I digress.

The following article is about a relative newcomer to the long track, Trevor Marcicano. After reading this article, I think it's clear WHY I love speedskating so much. It's not just the sport... It's the environment. But, to be honest, the more I learned about the sport, the more I grew to love it. You would never think, just watching them, how much it takes. It's so beautiful, really. The grace, coordination and stamina you have to have is unbelievable. After this I'll post some of my favorite pics I've taken from the last event I attended. I think I may even have a couple of Trevor from the Men's Team Pursuit.

Anyway, the article below is great, and I think it's more amazing that Trevor is willing to share is story of depression. As soon as I finish here I'm going to "shoot" him an email and tell him that I think so. It's a tough world out there, and in elite level sports, even Olympic Sports, it isn't always nice and pretty. Good for Trevor for being man enough to stand up and say, "Yes, I have this issue I deal with, but I don't let it define who I am. I can still do anything anyone else can do!" You have to respect such a young man for that. Trevor's DEFINITELY on my " To Watch List" in Vancouver.

An Oval of Refuge From a Cold World

New York Times / Published: May 16, 2009

This may be the last season of anonymity for the speedskater Trevor
Marsicano. This spring, he established himself as a contender for multiple
medals at the 2010 Olympics and as a challenger to Shani Davis, the top
United States star.

At the world single distances championships in March at the site where
speedskating will be held at next year's Vancouver Olympics, Marsicano, less
than a month before his 20th birthday, won a medal in all four of his
events, claiming gold in the 1,000 meters. Earlier, at the World Cup finals
in Salt Lake City, he had his three best times and became the first man to
break 1 minute 7 seconds in the 1,000.

After he clocked 1:06.88, the crowd applauded Marsicano during his cool-down
laps as his stunned parents, Linda and Randy, watched.

"To see people who don't even know him embracing him and accepting him - you
can't describe what that did for our hearts," Linda Marsicano said, her
voice breaking. "Because if you knew where he came from and the cruelty he
went through."

Seven years ago, Marsicano was a shy seventh grader who was taking
medication for depression and was being bullied by classmates.

"It was constant harassment every day," he said. "I guess I was an easy

Marsicano said he was taunted for having a facial rash and extra-long

On the third day of eighth grade, he said, he was jumped from behind after
standing up to a boy who had made some younger girls cry. Marsicano said no
one defended him.

"It just got worse and worse from that point on," he said.

"I had no confidence," Marsicano said. "I was scared of people for two or
three years. I didn't talk to anybody but my family, and even then, there
was not a lot to say. I was overdosing on depression medication. At the end
of eighth grade, I said: I don't want to go back to school. I don't want to
live anymore."

His parents chose home-schooling, and he quit playing ice hockey to focus on

The first time she watched him working out at the oval, Linda Marsicano
said, she thought he would be bored. But speedskating allowed him to take
the advice of a trainer he had worked with since he was a scrawny
12-year-old trying to beef up - surround yourself with positive people.

The rink was filled with them. When Paul Marchese, his coach, told Marsicano
his talent and persistence could make him an Olympic-caliber skater,
Marsicano was speechless.

"I never had anybody take such interest," he said.

His fellow skaters were different, too.

"I wasn't being belittled or picked on," Marsicano said. "If I was having a
hard time skating, people would try to help. That was the first time I felt
comfortable in a group like that."

The sport was also empowering.

"When I skated, I could forget about everything," he said. "For one moment,
I was in control of everything around me. I started to get my confidence

But during a short-track race in December 2004, a competitor slipped, spun
out and sliced Marsicano's thigh to the bone.

"The pain was excruciating, but I got lucky," he said.

His artery was bruised, not severed. He learned to walk again, yet the scar
reminds him "if anything happens I know I can come out of it." Physically,

Marsicano competed in the Olympic short-track trials in 2005, and placed

In 2007, on a whim, he tried to make the long-track team for the junior
world championships. He not only made it, he won the 3,000-meter race and
captured the overall bronze medal.

"I had a really good training base beneath me from short track," Marsicano
said. "I was really mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong."

Marchese said: "He's probably one of the most focused individuals I know. He
skates with intensity and ferocity in a middle distance that requires an
iron will."

Still, depression is a chronic battle.

"I can tell I'm starting to go down when I start to dread training, get
lazy, or when my emotions start to run me," he said. "It can be scary.
You've got to really monitor it and don't let yourself continue to fall."

He said that he was not on medication and that he could buoy himself with a
positive movie, a nap, a telephone call or physical activity if he caught
the symptoms early. Marsicano is home in upstate New York, trying to figure
out what to do with all his energy in the off-season.

"You get done with such a high, then go through a period where you're not
really training," he said. "I'm driving my parents nuts."

He has not yet had to figure out how to cope with losing on the oval.

"I haven't gotten to the point of a big defeat," he said, but his past has
steeled him for survival. "Every hardship you get through gives you an extra
plate of armor."

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