Yesterday I watched our long track athletes get back on the 400m oval for the first time in months. Fortunately, I was standing next to Derek Parra, 2002 Long Track Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist. I asked him, “Is getting back on the ice for the first time like riding a bike?”
“Kind of,” he said.
Since I am not a former skater, lucky for me most of the people I work with are, I of course had to ask him to explain. He said, “The hard thing about speedskating is that it is not a natural sport, like running. In running you are upright and you push forward to build momentum. Speedskating is very unique because you are bent over in a specific position and you have to push to the side to build momentum.“
Derek went on to tell me, as a long track speedskater you spend your summers doing dryland, inlining, biking, skating on the short track ice, etc.. All of these different types of training compliment the muscle groups and energy systems you use in speedskating. You cannot duplicate it. The feeling that you get while speedskating, the rhythm and timing, is so specific. So when you get back on the ice again something feels off. It takes a few days to get use to the movement, feeling and millimeter edge.
“I would get back on the ice for the first time and feel great,” he said. “Then once I would doing a couple of sets of laps I would get super fatigued. The smaller muscles that I haven’t been able to work through summer training are really playing a role in keeping me balanced while I am going around a turn at 30 mph. As months go on and those stabilizing muscles get more incorporated in your technique and fitness, then it is like riding a bike.”
Being naive about speedskating, I also asked Derek how dryland, cycling, etc. helped you on the ice but that is a whole other blog post. So for now, here is a video with some current athletes and their excitement to be back on the ice.
Author: Jenny Walter