Aspiring Athletes Inspiring the Community.
I have to be honest, when I first got the call that I was accepted into medical school my first reaction was “no way can I quit skating now”. We had just finished a super fun sprint workout on the track and I felt like I learned some things that were really going to help my first 100m this year. My coaches thought that I was as strong as I had ever been in skating position for this time of year and I was looking forward to another great season on the ice. I still had the drive to get myself to training every day, even to those long bike rides that I have never enjoyed, because I know that every day counts if you want to be world class. In talking with other skaters who have retired, they always say that you just know when you are done. You know because it is a chore to come to training and your body just doesn’t have it anymore. But I wasn’t there yet and I felt like there was more that I had to give on the ice.
I had 5 days to respond to the U of A on whether or not I would be accepting the spot and I got a lot of different opinions from people that I trust about what I should do or how I should make my decision. My head was telling me to go back to school and start “real life” whereas my heart was telling me to keep doing what I love and living the great life of an amateur athlete. In the end it came down to thinking about the reasons why I wanted to do either decision, knowing that whatever I would choose I would be happy. But in my head and heart I couldn’t see myself going another 3 years to PyeongChang and it was not worth missing out on a different life opportunity for maybe just one more year of World Cups.
I do feel lucky though, because I never got to the point in speed skating where I didn’t want to go to the rink for whatever reason. I was able to enjoy skating up until my last day on the ice and I’m not sure a lot of people can really say that, and I am very happy going back to school to pursue medicine. It has only been a month but already I am super excited about what the future holds. I will continue to follow the Canadian team and cheer them on but so far I have felt no regret over my decision.
There are so many people to thank for allowing me to skate for as long as I did and as fast as I did but the first would have to be my parents. I learned so much about sport from both of them, both on and off the ice, and would never have considered taking the sport back up at 22 years old if not for their unconditional support. Thank you for everything Mom and Dad. Another great thing about speed skating is that it brought me together with my wife Danielle and that created our beautiful son Asher. Thank you to both of them for keeping me grounded and reminding me about what is really important in life. I was also very lucky in that the rest of my family was always around in Calgary and I was able to live with all of them at one point as well as train with both my sisters. Family is so important to me and having them around made things so much easier on me.
I had many great coaches throughout my career but the two most important were my first, my Mom, and my last, Mike Crowe. From my Mom I learned all the fundamentals about skating and from Mike I learned how to use those fundamentals to go really fast. They also instilled in me the value of hard work and the importance of being mentally tough as well as technically proficient. I definitely would not have been an international level skater without the fabulous coaching that I received over the years. Speed skating is an individual sport but I was lucky enough to train with some incredibly talented and hard working athletes that made up some of the best teams that I have ever been on. So thank you to all the members of the DREAM team and the Diamonds and anybody else that I had the pleasure of skating with over the years for showing me how to be better. This includes my competitors as well; I spent many hours analyzing great races by other skaters to try and make myself better.
It was especially nice having a second family to cheer me on during my final few years of skating, thank you to the Wotherspoons for waking up early to cheer me on at all those Saturday morning races. I was lucky to also have the privilege to work with the many great therapists through SSC over the years. Their expertise and care allowed me to stay almost completely injury free in a sport that is very conducive to injuries. There are too many to name but thank you to all of them! There are also the organizations or programs that allow amateur sport in Canada to exist and allow us to follow our dreams of representing Canada around the world. Thank you Edmonton Speed Skating Association, Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association, Speed Skating Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Own the Podium, Sport Canada, the Olympic Oval, Podium Alberta and anybody else that I forgot.
There were also some organizations that got involved with my personal journey and helped me out more than can ever be written. Thank you so much to Gregg Distributors, a great Canadian company that without their help I can honestly say that I would have never made it to the Olympics. Your support of my sisters and I allowed us to focus our energies on sport and of the ultimate dream to walk in to the opening ceremonies with Canada on our back. We couldn’t have done it without you. A huge thank you to the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary which was always there to provide services to the athletes that were essential, and for having such wonderful staff providing them. CAN Fund is another organization that helped me out and is not very well known but is there to help our athletes reach for the podium at the Olympics. I was fortunate enough to get involved with Kaenon early in my career and was the benefactor of racing in glasses that were of the highest quality, very comfortable, lightweight and stylish. I can guarantee that I will be a Kaenon wearer for the rest of my life! Fitness Table Calgary was instrumental in keeping me performing at a high level as I got older and actually getting faster in my openers due to a better transfer of power through my whole body. Thank you also to M & M meat shops and Booster Juice for your nutritional contributions along the way. SSC has had quite a few sponsors over the time that I have skated but Intact Insurance has always been there and their contribution to speed skating in Canada has been tremendous. They have always gone the extra mile for the National Team and it is appreciated by the athletes.
When I look back on the choices that I made in my life, I am still surprised that I took such a risk to move to Calgary and try to follow my dream of competing in the Olympics. I was never a top skater when I was younger and it was crazy to think that things would be any different after taking 5 years off. I was halfway through my degree, my life was based in Edmonton and I had no idea what kind of commitment it would take to actually achieve my goal. I am thankful that I did of course, and I was only able to make it happen due to the people and organizations mentioned above. I look forward to my future and to giving back to the younger generation in speed skating because it really is a beautiful sport and I hope that others will get to experience the joy that it brought me.