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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American Cup Photos

March 12, 2010

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I’ve been working on this post for several days now. (I’m currently at my brothers house working in ‘Interior Designer’ mode…and I gotta get back at it today…)

These fine photos are all by Jerry Search, and what would we do without him? I’ll tell ya what! I’d have no photos to post!

These are from Jerry Search’s facebook page for the just completed American Cup final and 2010 National Championships. To see the complete photo album of Jerry’s photos, please go to this link. Am Cup final isn’t up yet, but it will be here when it’s loaded. (Hey, no pressure Jerry! LOL):
http://www.nationalspeedskatingmuseum.org/Photo%20Albums/JerrysAlbums.htm

Photo by Jerry Search

Landon Hatfield and Matt Rittenhouse. The Rocker Funds current Skater of the Month, Landon Hatfield, was second overall for intermediate men at the 2010 National Championships.
To make a donation to Landon to help him continue skating, go to his page on The Rocker Fund:
http://therockerfund.org/FORMgallery5.htm

Photo by Jerry Search


Mary Grace was third for the American Cup Final, and finished 1st overall for the season. Congratulations Mary, another job well done!

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Photo by Jerry Search


Jessica Smith, Emily Scott, Erin Bartlett, (wild shot in the dark with the other two. Best Guess- Vicky Labourdette and Morgan Izykowski)
Jessica Smith in front came in first for the American Cup Final and 10th overall for the Am Cup Season. (due to her skating World Cup 3 and 4)
Emily Scott came in second for the American cup final and ended the season 2nd overall as well.
Erin Bartlett 11th for Am Cup final and overall and 9th for the season (top 10 Erin! Way to go)
Vicky was 3rd overall for the season and Morgan 6th.

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Photo by Jerry Search

Cherise Wilkins was 4th overall for the season and came in 5th for the Am Cup Final.

Photo by Jerry Search


Kyle Carr, Alexander Hopp and Zach Fuller
Kyle Carr came in first for the Am Cup final, and with that, a spot on the World Championship Team in Sophia, Bulgaria- replacing Apolo Anton Ohno.

Alexander finished 21st, 16th overall for the season.
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Jeff Simon, Zach Fuller and Michael Burdekin

In front, Jeff ‘if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all’ Simon.
Jeff and Eddy Alvarez were going head to head for the top spot at this competition. Unfortunately, a bad pass left Simon on a stretcher and Eddy out of the competition with a yellow card.

Jeff finished the AmCup final in 3rd despite the trip to the hospital and finished Am Cup season 10th overall. Unfortunately, while he skated his heart out for WC 3 (he came down with the vicious H1N1 for WC4) which helped to secure USA spots for other team members at the Olympics, this appears to have worked against Jeff for his own AmCup standings.

Jeff has more than paid his dues this year. One of our very best skaters and yet this year has thrown nothing but lemons at him. So to Jeff, to quote Sting, this is “The Starting of a Brand New Day”. I say, next season is going to be different.

To the other skaters: Step AWAY from the Jeff. No more hurting the Jeff. No more bad passes on the Jeff. No more pushing the Jeff…
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Photo by Jerry Search


Anthony Lobello, Levi Kirkpatrick, Cole Krueger, Jonathan Garcia, JP Kepka, Kyle Carr.

Anthony Lobello is another skater who skated his heart out for the World Cups to his own detriment and ended up injured for the last Am Cup. Anthony finished 9th for the Am Cup final and 14th overall

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Photo by Jerry Search

Zach Fuller in front. Zach finished 18th at Am Cup Finals, and 21st for the season.
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Photo by Jerry Search

Another S. Cal skater, Rocker Fund Alumni and personal favorite, Kyle Uyehara placed 6th overall for the AmCup season. (and I just noticed the link to his thread on TRF to the BB forum isn’t working…we’ll update that asap…) Congratulations Kyle on moving up in placement from last year!

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Photo by Jerry Search

Jonathan Garcia ended the american Cup season first overall, and with that, I believe he earns himself an invitiation to train with the National team. Congratulation Jonathan.

Right behind him in this photo is Dan Fiorenza. Dan ended the season 13th overall. Good job gentlemen!

Photo by Jerry Search


My main man Anthony Barthell. (I have to admit, I’ve liked this guy since I first met him when he checked us in at the Hilton Garden where he works. Go Anthony!) Since I can’t see the face… according to USS, this is James Rodowsky. James came in 12th overall for the season.

Anthony finished the American Cup season 19th overall, (pity the roof collapsed for AmCup 3, I know he was really looking forward to his family and friends being there to see him compete)

Photo by Jerry Search

Morgan Izykowski and Alaina Fiorenza. Morgan ended the American Cup season 6th overall, Alaina 15th overall. Good job and continue to climb that ladder to the top ladies!

Photo by Jerry Search


Liz Looby. Liz was second for the Intermediate Ladies for the 2010 National Championships. Good job, Liz!

Photo by Jerry Search


Gabee Roozie. Gabee was 5th for the Intermediate ladies for National Championships. Good effort Liz!

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Photo by Jerry Search

Julian Wood after being out recovering from a horrible injury last season, came back this season to not only make the Junior World Team, but finished first in his category for Intermediate Men.
Congrats Julian on fighting your way back onto the ice.

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I haven’t seen any photos of TRF skater Barry Winslow yet, but he finished 7th overall fr the season, 6th for Am Cup final. Up three spots from last year Barry! Way to go!

I also didn’t see any photos of Kelsey Schiel, who finished the Am Cup season 14th overall.

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Photo by Jerry Search

I normally don’t go out of my way to post photos of the skaters falling, but from a photographic standpoint, this is one very cool shot. (Pictured, James Rodowsky. Sorry, James…)

Am Cup season totals, Ladies:
http://www.usspeedskating.org/pdf/results/126809020128017_FinalAmCupSTrank_Ladies.pdf

Am Cup season total, Men:
http://www.usspeedskating.org/pdf/results/126809018213534_FinalAmCupSTrank_Men.pdf


American Cup Final

March 9, 2010

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Congrats to Kyle Carr who placed first and will be replacing Apolo Ohno for the World Championships and Jessica Smith for placing first for the Ladies. Kudos to all the skaters for a good season. (Rocker Fund Skaters in Bold)
http://usspeedskating.org/pdf/results/126800302625622_acfinal-pointsday3.pdf

AmCup Ladies
1 Smith, Jessica
2 Scott, Emily
3 Grace, Mary
4 Labourdette, Vicky
5 Wilkins, Cherise
6 Izykowski, Morgan
7 Jeong, Eun Ji
8 Todd, Kirsten
9 Frederick, Tamara
10 Skrocki, Rachel
11 Bartlett, Erin
12 Schiel, Kelsey
13 Milan, Sonia
14 Welsh, Katie
15 Pumphrey, Kendal
16 Fiorenza, Alaina
17 Ralston, Katherine
18 Dehnke, Andrea

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AmCup Men
1 Carr, Kyle
2 Garcia, Jonathan
3 Simon, Jeffrey
4 Kepka, JP
5 Kirkpatrick, Levi
6 Winslow, Barry
7 Uyehara, Kyle
8 Krueger, Cole
9 Lobello Jr., Anthony
10 Creveling, Chris
11 Krueger, John-Henry
12 Haun, Kyle
13 Barthell, Anthony
14 Frank, Nick
15 Burdekin, Michael
16 Fiorenza, Daniel
17 Rodowsky, James
18 Fuller, Zachary
19 Geminder, Kevin
20 Mularkey, Casey
21 Hopp, Alexander

Julian Wood and Landon Hatfield came in first and second respectively for the Intermediate men. Shaner Lebauer came in fourth for the Juvenile men. Liz Looby came in second for the Intermediate Ladies, Gabby Roozee 5th.

For complete standings for Nationals:
http://usspeedskating.org/pdf/results/12680029736522_nationals_-_day_3_-_point__standings.pdf


American Cup III

February 5, 2010

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With all the excitement leading up to the Olympics, it’s important not to forget about the other competitions and skaters heading off to compete this weekend in Dale City, Virginia. I doubt there will be a live feed, so you will have to check in at USS’s website to see how the skaters are doing. (or have a ‘live feed’ in the way of someone who is going relaying info!)

Best of Luck, and a special shout out to the skaters who have participated in The Rocker Fund: Morgan Izykowski, Erin Bartlett, Barry Winslow, Kyle Uyehara, Dan Fiorenza, Jeff Simon, Zach Fuller and Anthony Barthell. Also TRF skaters to be – Landon Hatfield (March 2010) and Julian Wood (April). Additional well wishes to some other personal favorites and skaters who have been kind enough to ‘friend’ me on facebook. Jonathan Garcia, Eddy Alvarez, Anthony Lobello, Cherise Wilkins, Jessica Smith, Kelsy Schiel..(and the moms of Kendal Pumphrey and Vicky Labourdette!…and Nick Frank’s girlfriend)

YIKES! There is a danger in this, isn’t there? I sure hope I didn’t forget anyone!
…and that’s a big chunk of the entrants…so ‘COM’ON Y’ALL! Skate fast – skate well!
For a full list of the racers this weekend, go here:

ST American Cup III, USS
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To view official results, go to the link on the right for USS under ‘Other Websites’.


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