U.S. Short Track Skaters Take a Stand

September 15, 2012

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Quote of the Day:
“Whatever hits the fan will not be distributed evenly…”

I’m sure this situation will prove to be no different.
Good. And it’s about time.

Today, both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Chicago Tribune have posted news items about allegations made by the skaters who are part of the U.S. Short Track Team.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/54898027-77/athletes-chun-federation-skaters.html.csp
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/chi-us-short-track-skaters-charge-head-coach-with-abuse-20120914,0,2764376.story
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I won’t lie and say I’m surprised. In fact, I’ve often wondered why it took the athletes so long to fight back. I understand though. I’m sure it’s like a bunch of little Davids going up against that Goliath guy. A LOT of those Goliath guys.
U.S.S. has always had all the power, and the athletes had very little choice but to suck it up and deal with it if they wanted any chance of being on an Olympic Team. Unfair, surely. Fans have always known there were issues – the athletes are severely underfunded. But I doubt we knew it extended to this level of abuse.

Quote of the Day #2:
“The definition of Stress: When your mind overrules your body’s intense desire to beat the crap out of someone who desperately deserves it”

I’ve worked for abusive bosses. I know how it feels. I also know that it is completely counter-productive. Any extra blood you may squeeze out of that turnip by doing so is extremely short lived. It quickly turns to resentment, and you will NOT be getting anyone’s best work. Their mind isn’t on doing their job, (in this case, skating their best) it’s on their all consuming anger and trying to keep every muscle in their body from taking the abuser out back and giving them a much needed case of ‘whoop-ass’. That’s if you’ve got any degree of chutzpah. For others with less, it just beats them down so low that they have a hard time even getting back up again. Either way, it’s pointless and unnecessary and doesn’t get anything positive out of anyone. To quote one of my own fathers ‘dad-isms’:
“You can choose to be a good manager. Or you can choose just to be an asshole with a title”.

To USS. Choose better coaches. Resorting to this sort of behavior is for those who aren’t good enough to get results by any other means.

On a more positive note, many of our skaters are now training with the program coached by former Rocker Fund skater Anthony Barthell (we’re SO proud of you Anthony!) and Olympic Bronze medalist Alex ‘Izy’ Izykowski. Good on ya boys! May you and the skaters have a GREAT season. We’re cheering you all the way!
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“Obviously, we take this very seriously,” said Tamara Castellano, a spokeswoman for U.S. Speedskating. “Our product is our athletes. If we don’t have them, we don’t have anything.”

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…umm, excuse me a moment…*sputter *choke* cough*…
…BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!!
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…not to put too fine a point on it, but even we fans know this is complete and utter B.S.- but hey, thanks for trying to insult our intelligence. The entities involved believe skaters merely exist to support USS, the USOC, the IOC…you name it – not the other way around. It has always been thus. There’s a lot of people with their fingers in that Olympic Sports Pie making a HUGE amount of money off of these athletes, while the athletes themselves struggle.

Our impression of USS is of a giant, voracious sawmill, and the skaters are just logs they pass through the blade to build their house of cards, turning them into sawdust in the process.

That impression was reinforced by reading Eva Rodansky’s book ‘Winter of Discontent’…and reading it again. There were so many revelations in it, that the thoughts were literally ricocheting around my brain like overactive, runaway pachinko balls. Point after point of things we suspected all along, but didn’t have any proof of – until now.

I wanted to write about this ages ago, but was asked to keep it on the down low. I obliged. Now that the cat IS out of the bag, I feel no need to keep quiet about the many issues the skaters had – and continue to have with the powers that be.
If you’re a fan of short track, please read her book. It’s a real eye opener. (sadly, it is no longer available as an e book on either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Ya snooze, ya lose…maybe you should all call en-mass and request it back on the e book list)

The skaters, and our impression of USS, was a big reason why we started The Rocker Fund…and all the other periphery items like this blog that grew out of that.
Let me take a moment to give you a little TRF short track fan history.

Many of us started our Short Track obsession on the GotApolo forum. Lori Robinson managed to get many of us to commit to meeting for our first short track competition (US Championships) live and in the flesh in Salt Lake City- even though none of us had ever met before. (By the way, my parents thought I was absolutely INSANE to roomie with someone I didn’t know and were thoroughly convinced that Lori was a possible axe murderer…but I digress…)

Anyway, No small feat pulling that off. As Lori will tell you, it’s like herding cats. She did a lot of planning and networking to get us all to that first get together, and it was a smashing success. We had an absolute blast. (I’m happy to report I came home in one piece, no axes in sight. Lori DID however, try to kill me doing the Grouse Grind on a different ST trip, but that’s another story…)

Certainly the parents of the skaters were very warm and welcoming. No doubt excited that somebody other than themselves actually gave a sh*t about watching their kids skate. More often than not the skaters themselves were absolutely stunned that anyone even knew who they were let alone were actual fans of them -which is probably why we adore them so. We may have started as Apolo fans…but we didn’t stay there long. We became fans of ALL the skaters, which certainly made for some interesting cheering. “Come On Ya’all” became a common yell when the lineup was full of favorites. Who do you cheer for? Well – All Ya’all.

At the World Cup in Salt Lake a month or two later, we decided to do it again. Gone were the options of VIP tickets, which we were more than willing to pay for. We mere fans didn’t qualify. So we decided to pool all that money we would have spent anyway and give it to a struggling skater. But how to go about it?

USS was approached and we were told “just give the money to us and we’ll take care of it…”

ppfffft! Yeah, right. I’m sorry, we only look stupid. Feeling fairly certain that said starving skater would never see a dime, we decided to give the money directly…but then that whole ‘herding cats’ thing came into play, and no one could agree on which skater to give it to. More importantly, we weren’t even sure if the skaters wanted our help. Which got us thinking…and well, long story short, The Rocker Fund was born.

Looking back on it now, I don’t regret being involved with it even though it had its headaches and ultimately ran its course. I would say on my part I was certainly naive on what I was getting myself into. I still think it’s a good cause, now more than ever. Our Short Track athletes need our support – financially and emotionally.

I’ll hazard a bit of hubris here in making a blanket statement on behalf of all the fans.

Suck it, USS. We stand with the skaters.

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US Short Track Speedskating Championships 2010

December 20, 2010

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Sunday’s Results

Congratulations to both Jeff Simon and Katherine Reutter on winning the National Title. You Rock!

Congrats to Sarah Chen and Jonathan Garcia for making the National Team for the first time. (my understanding is that the 5th spot is discretionary on the part of the coaches)

Congrats to the other skaters that made the National Team:
Simon Cho, Travis Jayner, Anthony Lobello, Lana Gehring, Jessica Smith and Emily Scott.

Quick recoveries to Aly Dudek and Landon Hatfield. (Landon, that was mighty scary. Glad you’re OK)

OVERALL STANDINGS

LADIES

Katherine Reutter
Lana Gehring
Jessica Smith
Emily Scott
Sarah Chen

Alyson Dudek
Allison Baver
Morgan Izykowski
Kimberly Derrick
Cherise Wilkins
Katherine Ralston
Brittany Salmon
Tamara Frederick
Rachel Skrocki
Kendal Pumphrey
Erin Bartlett

MEN

Jeff Simon
Simon Cho
Travis Jayner
Anthony Lobello
Jonathan Garcia

Kyle Carr
Kyle Uyehara
Ryan Bedford
John Henry Krueger
Robert Lawrence
Levi Kirkpatrick
Chris Creveling
Cole Krueger
Adam Callister
James Rodowsky
Micheal Burdekin

LADIES 1000M A FINAL

1 220 Katherine Reutter 1:33.350
2 204 Lana Gehring 1:33.464
3 216 Jessica Smith 1:33.542
4 218 Emily Scott 1:33.746

MEN’S 1000M A FINAL

1 300 Jeff Simon 1:26.688
2 297 Simon Cho 1:26.998
3 248 Jonathan Garcia 1:28.924
PEN 241 Travis Jayner

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The men’s 3000m was a wild ride, and if I could find results anywhere for either the ladies or men, I’d post ’em. Kyle Carr, Simon Cho, Travis Jayner and Ryan Bedford all took a tumble, leaving the door open for Anthony Lobello and two other skaters (Jonathan Garcia and Kyle Uyehara perhaps?)

This apparently isn’t for points, but it would be nice to give the skaters who did this grueling long distance race their due.

Just sayin’…

For more results, go here to the USS site:
http://usspeedskating.org/

Anyway…Congrats to all the skaters wherever they placed. Watching you skate is always a thrill. Safe travels to all, and to all, a Happy Holiday Season with your family and friends.


U.S. Short Track Speedskating Championships 2010

December 19, 2010

For helmet numbers so you can figure out who you’re watching in each race, go to USS link here:

http://www.usspeedskating.org/pdf/results/129262120123002_Mens1000TimeTrial.pdf

These are the standings as of Saturday night.

LADIES 1500M A FINAL

1 220 Katherine Reutter 2:24.601
2 204 Lana Gehring 2:25.607
3 218 Emily Scott 2:25.683
4 216 Jessica Smith 2:25.701
5 223 Alyson Dudek 2:25.859
6 257 Allison Baver 2:26.525

MEN’S 1500M A FINAL

1 300 Jeff Simon 2:26.685
2 297 Simon Cho 2:26.793
3 241 Travis Jayner 2:27.391
4 291 Anthony Lobello 2:27.413
5 237 Kyle Carr 2:35.859
6 292 Kyle Uyehara 2:51.289

To see how all the skaters fared during each round, go here on US Speedskating’s site:
http://www.usspeedskating.org/pdf/results/129272257721609_1500MeterResults.pdf

LADIES 500M A FINAL

1 216 Jessica Smith 44.311
2 196 Sarah Chen 44.825
3 220 Katherine Reutter 54.749
DNF 223 Alyson Dudek

Congrats to Jessica Smith, Wow! to Sarah Chen, Oops for Katherine Reutter and Ouch for Alyson Dudek.

Aly suffered a horrible fall and it looked like she had a very ‘Close Encounter of the Sharp Kind’ with Katherine’s blade, which sent her a tumbling down too. Rumor has it Aly dislocated her shoulder….which is why she didn’t finish.
Hope all is well, Aly.

MEN’S 500M A FINAL

1 297 Simon Cho 41.731
2 300 Jeff Simon 41.809
3 237 Kyle Carr 41.879
4 242 Ryan Bedford 41.993

Congrats to all.

To see how all the skaters did in the 500m rounds, go here to US Speedskating’s site:
http://www.usspeedskating.org/pdf/results/129273192622936_500MeterResults.pdf

For more info, go to U.S. Speedskatings results page:

http://www.usspeedskating.org/

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Racing starts again on Sunday at 10am Mountain Time

Scroll down to Friday’s post for all the links to Tony Chung’s live feed and follow along on the spreadsheet. (And he takes donations )




Justin Macala photo shoot with Allison Baver

September 10, 2010

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Allison just posted several photos on her Facebook page, photographed by Justin Macala. (…and let’s just say, the guys of the world will not be disappointed…)

I chose to post what I thought was one of the nicest photos of Allison, in a general sense (the guys will no doubt disagree I’m sure, LOL) and I hope Allison and Justin don’t mind me snagging a photo off of Facebook to spread the word.

(Believe me, it’s the gals that get the most search engine requests.
Usually with tags like ‘Sexy Allison Baver’…or ‘Hot Katherine Reutter’).

There are some folks who will be VERY happy today!

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Photo by Justin Macala


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Lookin’ Good Allison.

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To see the rest of the photo shoot, go here:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281211&id=92016757958&l=e6c41525c9

Allison also posted photos from her ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ experience:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=281211&id=92016757958&l=e6c41525c9#!/album.php?aid=280635&id=92016757958&fbid=461992217958&ref=mf

ALSO: Don’t forget to visit Allison’s website:
http://www.allisonbaver.com/


Short Track Speedskating! In Argentina!!!

September 6, 2010

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Ok, I have to confess right here that I’ve been a VERY bad girl in not getting this info up sooner. I’ve been chatting with Andres Chaves from Argentina’s speedskating club for months on Facebook (ain’t instant messaging grand? I just love that I can carry on a virtual conversation with someone way down under near Patagonia and Antarctica…ya know, where the penguins come from…and it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Can you just imagine THAT phone bill?) and my brain just now remembered to post something about it. (And that’s only because a hello from Andres goosed my brain enough to remember to do it) So sorry Andres, accept my apologies in taking so long to post about this.

Anyway, If you haven’t checked out their website, you truly must! The photos are just amazing. Those of you who are Spanish speakers will probably be able to navigate the site better, but even I found I could get the basic gist, even though I took French many, many moons ago…and I sucked at it.

Photo Page:
http://www.patinushuaia.com/galeria/thumbnails.php?album=25

Home Page:
http://www.patinushuaia.com/galeria/index.php

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Photo courtesy of patinushuaia.com


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Now if this doesn’t look like the most gorgeous place on earth to train ever, I don’t know what does.

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Photo courtesy of patinushuaia.com


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If you don’t know much about Argentina or aren’t totally enthralled with the idea of going there, you obviously missed that episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’. (Tony, I want to work for you! …or the Travel Channel…or both!) I was instantly smitten and enthralled with the country.

http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Anthony_Bourdain/Episodes_Travel_Guides/Episode_Argentina
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And if you’re really not sure where this is, here’s a link to a google map:
http://maps.google.com.ar/maps?hl=es&rlz=1R2SKPB_esAR380&q=ushuaia&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=Ushuaia

I don’t know about you, but this is sooooooo on my bucket list! I hope this club grows and grows so that the ISU will consider having a World or World Cup event there in the future. (I want to visit Argentina waaaaaayyyy before – say- someplace like Bulgaria…)

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Now the following is from Andres, with some editing from me to what I think Andres was trying to say in English. (and his English is awesome compared to my Spanish.) But I think I’ve got the basics of the conversation. My apologies to Andres if I misunderstood some of the information.

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The school is the first short track of Sudamerca. Today we have 50 children skating, and hope to continue to grow the business. On the 17th, 18th and 19th of September we will make the first competitions in Argentina in speedskating.

Escuela de Patin Nora Vega

Our name: SCHOOL SHOE NORA VEGA

Ushuaia is the last city in the South American continent and known as the southernmost city in the world, and also for being the gateway to Antarctica. We receive a lot of tourism from Europe and we have a population of 70,000.

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Andres continues (my editing in parenthesis):

The school was founded in 1995 and performed the same speed skating on wheels (I think he means inline) and also on ice. In total the school has 120 students between the two modalities. (short track and inline?) When it comes time to participate in a competition, which normally take place in the north of our country, we have to travel 3500 km which is the distance from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. In the summer we do drive and are three days away. At other times, 40 children moved to the city of Mar del Plata. By bus trip that was 3 days.

Another adventure was traveling to the province of Jujuy, which is located at the northern tip of Argentina, we travel by plane to Buenos Aires and then went by bus to the city of Jujuy, making a journey of 5000 km. All powers to participate in speed skating on wheels. (I’m not sure what the all powers means, but I think what he meant was that there were a lot of parents and others who put forth the funds to make this all possible)

…and you thought flying into Marquette, MI was bad…

I was also told that Olympic Bronze Medalist Allison Baver is their teams favorite skater, and the coaches like to point to her as an example to inspire their young skaters to push to be their best, even through great adversity.

(And Allison, if you’re reading; this club and its young skaters would just be excited beyond measure if you took a moment to contact them.)

They also watch this video with Katherine Reutter:

This video we learn a little skating exercises

http://stacktv.stack.com/video.aspx?videoID=61446081001_617

Here’s a video from their program (I’m assuming, to invite kids to come and learn to skate. Yep, get ’em hooked while they’re young, that’s my motto):

The club also hopes to have two of their athletes to be in Italy and Britain next year in February and March, Gaston Chaves JUNIOR and Federico Chaves. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for them.

Here’s a results page:
http://speedskatingresults.com/index.php?p=17&s=17966


Allison Baver named Grand Marshal

September 5, 2010

http://reisolive.readingeagle.com/olive/ode/readingeagle/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=UkVHLzIwMTAvMDkvMDM.&pageno=Mg..&entity=UGMwMDIyMQ..&view=ZW50aXR5
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Reading Eagle/Jeremy Drey

Olympic Bronze Medalist Allison Baver, here addressing children at the Police Athletic League Walnut Center in 2007, has been named Penn State Homecoming Week 2010 Grand Marshal.


More on Allison Baver and the Extreme Makeover build

August 4, 2010

EMHE Game Helps Heart Association
Dwayne Parker | Reporter

HAMBURG, Pa. — The American Heart Association received some star-studded support Monday afternoon.

The organization is working with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to spread education and remember a life cut short.

From Hollywood to Hamburg, it wasn’t your average flag football game.

Christie Brinkley and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who inspired the story, “The Blindside,” were the coaches.

The football game was part of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

The most recent winner, Trisha Urban of Tilden Township, lost her husband to a congenital heart defect.

Community members gave more than $2,600 to the American Heart Association, an important cause for Leigh Anne Tuohy, who lost her father to a heart attack.

“I thought it would be a wonderful idea to bring it all in and do something that Trisha was passionate about as well,” said Tuohy. “Since Andy (Trisha’s husband) passed away from a heart attack, it just seemed to be the right thing to do.

“And it’s so important that we let people know the risk factors and continue to educate them, do work within the community and the health care community as well,” said Laura Weis of the American Heart Association.

Refereeing the game was three-time Olympian Allison Baver and Olympic silver medalist Kristy Kowal, both of Berks County. And they said through every play, they were thinking about the Urban family.

“I know that when I broke my leg right before the Olympic games,” said Baver, “I didn’t have a team to get me through that time. I would have never been able to make that happen. So we are all here for her, supporting them.”

“So being able to come back and help out is one of the coolest things about being an Olympian,” said Kowal.

“I’m so happy that this story is going to have a new chapter, a happy ending,” said Brinkley.

To see videos and read more, go here:
http://www.wfmz.com/berksnews/24490883/detail.html

and here:
http://www.berksmontnews.com/articles/2010/08/02/hamburg_area_item/news/doc4c57468b4ef28500155301.txt


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