Athletes from all around the world will compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and each one has a story to tell. In Speed Skating many athletes have made a switch from roller skating to speed skating in the past. They even won Olympic titles like Chad Hedrick (USA), who took 5000m gold at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Five inline prodigies who recently switched to ice with an ISU Development Transition program, qualified for PyeongChang 2018.
Yu-ting Huang (TPE) will compete in the Ladies 1500m, 1000m and 500m while compatriot Wei-Lin Tai will compete in the Men’s 1500m. American Erin Jackson is entered for the Ladies 500m while Colombians Laura Gomez Quintero and Pedro Causil will compete in the Ladies Mass Start and Men’s 1000m and 500m respectively.
Roller Speed Skating (© GettyImages)
With the support of the ISU Development program, the Utah Olympic Oval and ISU Members, the ISU Transition Program was designed to help athletes from skating sports such as Inline Speed Skating, Hockey and Figure Skating to transition to Speed Skating. The aim is to help countries with rich talents pools in these skating sports to transfer that talent to Speed Skating in the best training environment available.
Yu Ting Haung (TPE)
A talented inline skater holding the 1000m world record, she is also a World Champion and the 2019 Asia Game Champion. When asked why she switched to ice she said: “Because, in inline I was a top skater and basically, I got every important title, so I want to challenge on the Olympic level because inline is not an Olympic sport yet.”
Wei Lin Tai (TPE)
Three times bronze medallist at the 2015 Inline World Cup in the Junior section, Wei also has Olympic aspirations and decided to switch to the ice, “I just wanted to try to get a spot to go to the Olympics,” he said. The ISU Transition program has provided him with all the facilities he needed in order to reach that dream.
Erin Jackson (© Getty Images)
Erin Jackson (USA)
Jackson has been an inline speed skater since 2002, winning 11 world medals. Erin took her first steps on the ice in September 2016 and started her full-time training with the ISU Transition Program back in September 2017. By the end of 2017 she made the Team USA Speed Skating Olympic Team. “A few of my long-term goals were to become an Olympian, earn an Olympic medal, and eventually become an Olympic Champion,” says Jackson. “Considering many inliners have made the transition before me, switching over had been on my radar for about a decade.”
Laura Gomez (COL)
Winning gold and silver at the 2016 Pan American Games in Buga, Colombia, is her highest achievement in inline skating to date. In 2017, she finished second at an international roller event in France. She switched to the ice initially because she wanted to do something different “I switched to ice because I wanted to learn to skate on ice, that would be just for fun, nothing serious.”
Laura Gomez & Pedro Causil along with a member of the US speed skating team (© AFP)
Pedro Causil (COL)
The multiple world inline Speed Skating Champion’s dream was to go to the Olympics and to live the Olympic experience. The Colombian won two gold medals at the Pan American Games in 2011 in the 300m time trial and the 1000m. At the 2015 Pan American Games, he also won the 500m title.
Ryan Shimabukuro is the head coach of the ISU Transition program in Utah. “Out of the 18 skaters from four countries who participated in the Transition Program this season, five skaters are going to the Winter Olympics for the first time. I believe the reasons why we were able to achieve this in a short period of time is because the strength of the program was based on a philosophy of “joint-training and cooperation”. The combined partnership of the ISU, Utah Olympic Oval, U.S. Speed Skating & The Colombian Skating Federation, in addition to the individual support from the Argentine & Chinese Taipei Federations of their athletes, really allowed the skaters to benefit from stronger training groups in a centralized format. The coaching staff from all the teams & programs at the Utah Olympic Oval worked extremely well together. As a result, this cooperation pushed each skater to excel, because we have the development pipeline in place for skaters to achieve competitiveness at an international.”