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 1 2011. The results are in…

October 3, 2011

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The first competition of the season for the U.S. Skaters is in the books, and the U.S. Team for the upcoming World Cups has been chosen.

For full results and points, you can go to Tony Chung’s spreadsheet:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkKaRsNHioRqdEFfUGZtZDhpb2l1aEdvYnRrTF9RTWc&hl=en_US#gid=25

The following results are from US Speedskatings site. The top 4 skaters were automatic team members, with two additional discretionary picks by the coaches. Here’s how it shakes out:

World Cup #1 – Salt Lake City, USA (October 21-23)

Ladies:

Lana Gehring (Glenview, IL)

Alyson Dudek (Hales Corners, WI)

Katherine Reutter (Champaign, IL)

Jessica Smith (Melvindale, MI)

Emily Scott (Springfield, MO)

Sarah Chen (San Marino, CA)

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Men:

J.R. Celski (Federal Way, WA)

Kyle Carr (Peachtree City, GA)

Jordan Malone (Denton, TX)

Jonathan Garcia (Houston, TX)

John-Henry Krueger (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kyle Uyehara (Lakewood, CA)

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World Cup #3 – Nagoya, JPN, (December 2-4)

World Cup #4 Shanghai, CHN, (December 9-11)

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Ladies:

Lana Gehring (Glenview, IL)

Alyson Dudek (Hales Corners, WI)

Katherine Reutter (Champaign, IL)

Jessica Smith (Melvindale, MI)

Emily Scott (Springfield, MO)

Tamara Fredericks (Park Ridge, IL)

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Men:

J.R. Celski (Federal Way, WA)

Kyle Carr (Peachtree City, GA)

Jordan Malone (Denton, TX)

Jonathan Garcia (Houston, TX)

Simon Cho (Laurel, MD)

Travis Jayner (Midland, MI)

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* Team USA will not be competing in World Cup #2 (October 28-30) in Saguenay, CAN
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It’s wonderful to see Travis Jayner is on the second leg of the World Cups. He had to scratch today due to a fall that was accompanied by a concussion. We love Tony’s live feeds, but we HATE seeing the skaters injured. We’re so glad you’re OK Travis!

Congratulations to all the skaters!

And Thank You Tony Chung for the live feed. We’d be lost without you. To donate to Tony for bringing us all ACTUAL MOVING PICTURES, go to the following link:
http://www.shorttrackhd.com/Donation.html
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On a side note: This season started out with quite a few skaters greatly missed. Jeff Simon, Simon Cho, Morgan Izykowski, and Anthony Lobello. Simon Cho has been on the mend and the coaches must think enough of him to give him a spot on the World Cup 3 and 4 Team despite not being able to compete. Anthony is finishing his school obligations. Good for you Anthony. Get the parchment and then concentrate on getting some GOLD.

I’m a bit sad Kimberly Derrick didn’t make the team, but it does give some other gals some experience. As a fan, we have a warm spot in our hearts for certain skaters and Kimberly is one of them. We’re heartbroken for them when they don’t fare well, even though we know there are only so many spots, and everyone can’t make a team. Kimberly’s concentrating on school too the last I heard and I’m sure a lot of her energy is going into that. Hang in there Berly.

Fellow Olympic Team Member Allison Baver was also MIA. She announced on her FB page that she’s decided to train for another Olympics, but seeing as she wasn’t at this competition, perhaps she has decided to continue giving long track a go.

The best of luck to all of you.
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To check out the rest of the news, see the links to the right for US Speedskating, the Boots and Blades Forum, Bella Faccie photography and Tony Chung- Short Track HD.


Crash propels Jeff Simon to short track victory

December 30, 2010

By Amy Donaldson, Deseret News
Published: Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010 11:45 p.m. MST

To see more photos and articles, go here:
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700093309/Crash-propels-Jeff-Simon-to-short-track-victory.html?pg=1

Jeff Simon skates past Simon Cho from the outside in the Men’s 1000 meter event for the 2010 U.S. Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Sunday. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

KEARNS — Simon Cho was 70 points ahead going into the final race of the U.S. Championships Sunday afternoon.

And then, as it often does in short track speed skating, a mistake by one athlete cost him the race. Ryan Bedford, who was disqualified after the race, caused a collision between himself and two other competitors. Jeff Simon narrowly avoided the crash that sent two skaters into the pads, but Cho fell because of it.
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After pulling away from the pack, Katherine Reutter skates alone in the women’s 3000 meter event at the 2010 U.S. Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Sunday.
Mike Terry, Deseret News

“It happens in short track,” Cho said with a shrug. “The real battle was between me and Jeff.”

So Cho’s plan was to watch Simon and plan his strategy around Simon’s moves. And then the collision happened right in front of him, causing him to wreck as well.

“There was a split second where I thought I had cleared it,” said Cho, who made the World Cup team and finished second behind Simon in the standings. “But unfortunately, three guys fall in front of you, there is not much room to maneuver.”

For Simon his first National Championship was sweeter after a disappointing — and painful — year. He narrowly missed making the 2010 Olympic Team and then he broke his back when another skater pushed him and he crashed into the wall surrounding the ice.

“I honestly just wanted to get those points,” he said of the final race in which Cho crashed, the 3,000-meter race. Simon finished fourth, while Cho was seventh. He felt for Cho getting tangled in the crash, but knew all he had to do was stay on his feet to earn the U.S. title.

“I just had to finish,” he said. “Now I just want to continue this momentum. I’m very pleased, very happy.”

To be the national champion after 11 weeks in a back brace and missing out on three months of training is just the kind of vindication Simon was hoping for this weekend.

“I’m exhausted from racing,” he said, “from pushing my body to its limit. I had to dig pretty deep.”

Simon and Cho are friends off the ice and said they enjoyed battling it out physically and intellectually.

“You only get smart by playing smarter,” said Simon. Cho was happy to see Simon win the title after a tough year, and took the fall in stride.

“I felt like I was at the top of my game,” he said. “It all came down to that last race. Falls like that happen all the time in short track. Every athlete just has to take it in stride.”

On the women’s side, Katherine Reutter continued her dominance with a win in both the 1,000-meter race and 3,000-meter contest. She put on a show in the 3,000-meter race when she took off nine laps into the race and eventually lapped the pack. She hung near the back of the group for the remainder of the race, finishing a full lap ahead of second place.


Jonathan Garcia skates to a first place finish in the men’s 3000 meter event in the 2010 U.S. Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearnon Sunday. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

Watch the Men’s 3000m wild ride here on Tony Chung’s shorttrackhd: (and don’t forget to donate!)
http://www.shorttrackhd.com/USChamps3kA.html

Read the rest of this entry »


US Championships Update…and Other Stuff…

December 21, 2010

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More Kudos today for Morgan Izykowski and Kyle Uyehara as the coaches pick for the last spot on the National Team. Congratulations to both of you!

OK, here’s the info on the 3000m I couldn’t find yesterday. (Thank You Tony Chung…more on him later)

LADIES 3000M A FINAL

Katherine Reutter
Lana Gehring
Jessica Smith
Emily Scott
Allison Baver
Morgan Izykowski
Sarah Chen
Alyson Dudek (PEN)

LADIES 3000M B FINAL

Kendal Pumphrey
Tamara Frederick
Brittany Salmon
Rachel Skrocki
Cherise Wilkins
Erin Bartlett
Kimberly Derrick (PEN)
Katherine Ralston (PEN)

MEN’S 3000M A FINAL

Jonathan Garcia
Anthony Lobello
Kyle Uyehara
Jeff Simon
Travis Jayner
Kyle Carr
Simon Cho
Ryan Bedford (PEN)

MEN’S 3000M B FINAL

John Henry Krueger
Cole Krueger
Adam Callister
Levi Kirkpatrick
Michael Burdekin
James Rodowsky
Robert Lawrence
Chris Creveling (DNS)

(Chris C, if you DNS due to injury and I missed it, please accept my apology in not wishing you a speedy recovery with the other skaters! Heal fast and heal well! And to any skaters I may have missed on that account… you do the same!

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But on to other news….

Tony Chung has been great on keeping us unfortunate souls who can’t make it to the competitions updated with tweets and WOW! …can you imagine???…VIDEO! Actual live moving pictures!

But that costs money.
Lest Tony think we don’t appreciate, love and adore him, please go to his site and donate whatever you can to keep these little pieces of heaven available to us.

Thank you Tony!

And here’s the link (FYI- note that Internet ‘Exploder’…er, I mean Explorer, is testy with this page, so I recommend you choose a different browser when accessing it):
http://www.shorttrackhd.com/Donation.html

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ALSO: Anthony Lobello made another National Team, and his friends set up a donation page for him.

Here’s the link so you can help Anthony keep doing that thing he does:
http://www.goforgoldlobello.com/
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…and Anthony, you might want to get this link set up permanently on your Facebook page…(or gasp!)…consider attaching a fanpage there too! It’s super easy – and free! (Hey, just sayin’…)

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AND…you can go to the Boots and Blades Forum for more info on this weekends races and information on all the skaters.
(…for which the link isn’t working for me at the moment…must be a proboards thing…)

http://therockerforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?

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…AND…just one more thing.

Jordan Malone, wherever you are – We Miss You!!!


U.S. Championships

December 18, 2010

OK, once again, been remiss on updating.

Tony Chung is doing a live feed (OMG! Moving pictures! With sound and everything!!!)

Here is the link:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shorttrackhd

PLUS: Skate times on a spreadsheet here!

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ag-mxbofHcsudFZqekVDTWQwcllESEFQZjdWa0s1dkE&hl=en&authkey=CLaUs-YO#gid=2

Skating Lineups:

http://www.shorttrackhd.com/USChamps2011MTT.PDF

For all the news on Team USA for World Cup 1,2 and 3, go to the Boots and Blades Forum. (Photos tend to be under the individual skaters who competed)

http://therockerforum.proboards.com/index.cgi


…More News….

May 8, 2010

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OK, I confess right here and now, I’ve been completely, totally and utterly slackin’ on keeping up with this site lately (hey, what can I say? My real life does need some attention from time to time… and I’m happy to say, I’m nearly organized, clutter free and caught up on all my ‘fix it’ projects! …finally!)

… but enough about me….

As a result, it’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with all the various social media, photos, google alerts, websites and general ST gossip that pops up on the web. (I can barely keep up with just a days worth of Twitter and Facebook posts! LOL) But I did stumble onto this tumblr site with lots of great photos of the skaters. Here’s a nice one of Kimberly Derrick, Alyson Dudek and Lana Gehring.

To see more, go here:
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/Kimberly+Derrick
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…more news….

And the winner – under the category of: “Life’s a B*tch, Sucks To Be You…”

Tony Chung posted this article on Facebook about the end result of investigations of the Korean ST Team:

2 Olympic medalists banned from skating for 3 years

By Kim hyun-cheol
Staff reporter

Two Olympic medal-winning short track skaters involved in a race-rigging scandal are in danger of having their careers ended after the local sport-governing body imposed a three-year ban on each of them.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) suspended Lee Jung-su and Kwak Yoon-gy from all competitions until April 2013, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday citing a source familiar with the case.

Their punishment, reportedly notified to the athletes the previous day, is heavier than recommended by a special joint committee convened last month.

The committee, comprised of members of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Olympic Committee and the KSU, suggested the two national team members be banned for a year.

Jeon Jae-mok, Kwak’s coach, was permanently prohibited from the sport for manipulating races, as the committee originally recommended.

The skaters can appeal the decision within seven days. Upon receiving this, the KSU will launch an additional investigation of the case and decide if its earlier decision should be amended within 30 days.

Lee, 20, and Kwak, 21, allegedly fixed the results of a series of recent competitions including their national team tryout races in March. Lee, however, is strongly denying the charge, saying he is a victim “of deep-rooted and wrongful practices on the local sport scene.”

In spite of the severity of the punishment, it remains to be seen if the skaters will appeal.

“This is just too harsh. It’s like the KSU is forcing them to call it quits as competitive skaters. It’s not fair to place that entire burden on young athletes when officials and coaches are actually much more responsible for what happened,” an official familiar with Lee was quoted as saying.

“But it’s not sure whether it will be better for them to opt for an appeal, which could drag the case on for years in the worst scenario.”

Lee was a double gold medalist in the men’s 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters at the Vancouver Winter Games, and Kwak won a silver medal in the men’s 5,000-meter relay.

hckim@koreatimes.co.kr

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I do feel for these young men, they are amazing skaters. No doubt they were caught in the middle of a skating entity that is more political and catty than a room full of Junior League Divas. Given the ‘shelf life’ of short track skaters, and especially Korean ones, this is one harsh punishment.

If you haven’t been keeping up on this Korean Soap Opera, you can catch up on the Boots & Blades Forum:

http://therockerforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=worldst&action=display&thread=208&page=3


High-tech worker Tony Chung is cult figure in short-track world

February 27, 2010

Photo by Jerry Search

By: Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press
winnipegfreepress.com

VANCOUVER – When short-track speedskaters need a fix, Tony Chung is their pusher.

Nah, it’s not what you think. Athletes go to Chung’s cult website http://www.shorttrackHD.com or YouTube for his exhaustive amateur coverage of almost every major event in the sport.

You want to watch an example of “team skating,” a cheating method notoriously hard to prove, Chung’s got some tape for you to see.

You want to check out Canadian Olivier Jean execute a bad pass in the last World Cup competition in Michigan, Chung was there.

Chung was the only person to make full, HD coverage of the Canadian Olympic trials available to the general public last summer.

The weird thing is, Chung is an IT worker from San Leandro, Calif., who has only speedskated for pleasure.

So what makes the 26-year-old want to be the Perez Hilton of the short-track world?

A desire to expand understanding of the sport and help athletes, he says.

“I’m a one-man army. I do everything: record, edit, tweet, website, just me, no help from any outsiders,” says Chung, who is in the stands for every short-track race in Vancouver. He posts his analysis after every day of racing — he can’t film at the Olympics.

“I want to be there with my knowledge of short-track and with my editing skills, to record and give that to the skaters – better video, better athletes, better training, better racing, better sport.”

Read the rest of this entry »


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