Tue January 14, 2014
Sochi-Bound Brian Hansen Maintains Speedskating Routine
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
With the Winter Olympics approaching in Sochi, Russia, one of the world's fastest skaters trains far from the limelight. His routine has remained the same for years. He's even been criticized by some skaters, for his dedication to the same coach in Milwaukee.
Marge Pitrof of member station WUWM reports.
MARGE PITROF, BYLINE: Brian Hansen realized long ago that he'd be alone with the sport he loved.
BRIAN HANSEN: I'd ask the kids when I was little, if they knew who Dan Jansen was and they'd say no. And then I'd say you don't know who Dan Jansen is? He's the fastest speed skater in the world.
PITROF: Ever since, the 23-year-old has been working to become the fastest. At first, that meant commuting a couple hours from his home in Illinois, to the Olympic-size oval at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee.
HANSEN: We started driving up here, you know, a couple times a week. And it's always been so successful that, you know, I decided to stay here and not move out to Salt Lake City.
PITROF: Salt Lake City where many of his teammates have trained. There's not much hoopla surrounding speed skaters at the Pettit Center.
So this is where they're training?
HANSEN: Yup, they're training out on the oval and...
PITROF: Brian Hansen is one of the few people here every day, along with the center's Marketing Director Kevin Butler.
KEVIN BUTLER: They're going upwards of 30 or 40 miles an hour at peak speed. All for what? You know, it's just chasing their dream and the Olympic dream.
PITROF: Lap after lap, a break for water, more laps - slower, faster. A sleek, colorful flash whizzes by. The coach hollers.
NANCY SWIDER-PELTZ, SR: Nice, really good. Nice.
PITROF: Hansen has also stayed with the same coach.
SR: Alright, pretty good.
PITROF: That's not the norm, especially at the elite level.
HANSEN: We worked well together as a team and, you know, I kind of just stuck with it.
SR: A multiple Olympian once said to me: When are you going to let your skaters move on to a real coach.
PITROF: That's Nancy Swider-Peltz, Senior, Hansen's coach. She's been to the Olympics as an athlete and as a coach, with Hansen in 2010, when he won silver in team pursuit. Swider-Peltz says you won't see many long trackers with female coaches, or even the same coach as last time.
SR: In the world's opinion, people tire of things. They get, you know, I want to try something else. But on our level it's are you producing results?
PITROF: Brian Hansen is now among the best in both the 1,000 and 1500-meters. He's confident the familiar will work for him at the Olympics, along with his Spartan routine: eat, train, sleep.
HANSEN: And there's no other crazy element. It's just, who can skate the fastest.
PITROF: Hansen is glad it's nearly that time, when his former schoolmates may pay attention to his sport.
For NPR News, I'm Marge Pitrof in Milwaukee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.