18 January 2018

Heartache (by Nancy Sr.)

Steve Penland
We know many of you do not know or are uncertain as to the outcome of the 2018 Speedskating Olympic Trials for Jeffrey and Nancy Jr.

So many of you have supported us through so many years with heart, soul, prayers and resources. You have been our backbone and we are grateful.

It is so hard to not be able to give back to you the excitement of being able to follow us through this 2018 Olympics. But what is so unusual is that there was no expectation from you, the supporters. You have repetitively supported and encouraged us graciously and for that we are blessed. But it is still very difficult to not be able to “give you” a “team Swider-Peltz" Olympics experience.

For Nancy Jr., we knew things were seemingly not coming together to make the Olympic Team, but anything can happen and she stayed tough to the end in the face of the odds brought on by ensuing injuries from her broken back some years ago.

For Jeffrey, we knew it would be tough, but the spots he trained for and had his best chances in were the Team Pursuit and/or the Mass Start. There were 4 spots to be filled on the Team Pursuit. And at the Trials, Jeffrey earned that spot from the criteria set out and that criteria was understood as such by those skaters vying for the Team Pursuit.

Because it was discretionary, the organization decided after the races, in an unprecedented stance to take 3 team pursuit skaters instead of 4. Such a decision is one all international Olympic Team Pursuit teams, as well as International Skating Union technical members, would not agree with. We trusted the organization to make a decision in the best interest of ALL skaters. It is simply to the other 3 skaters advantage to have a prepared 4th skater in case one is unable to skate. There are also 8 spots for the men to be named to the Olympic team and that 8th spot is being left unfilled. We do not agree with the fairness or logic of this decision. The Team Pursuit is the one race where luck can come into play and the odds are greatest for medal potential because of only 8 teams in contention at the Olympics. Also upsets happen just like Nancy Jr’s 2010 Vancouver Team Pursuit team where they were seeded 8th and upset the 1st seeded team, the Canadians. That Canadian team was expected to win the gold, but the US girls knocked them out in a situation where in the beginning no one believed they could do it.

In the mass start race, Jeffrey came into the Trials in 2nd place from 2 previous team pursuit races. He needed to beat 2 guys to maintain his spot. He was second by 0.1 seconds. It could have gone another way in a moment. It was the hardest moment of his career and my coaching, accepting that 2 possible ways onto the Olympic Team were gone. 

It was his boyhood dream that in (0.1) vanished. 

Jeffrey didn’t leave a stone unturned. He was student of the sport, a technician, and made the physical and mental sacrifices necessary for this level.

Knowing the sacrifices many of you made, as well, to get him there, of course was a huge motivation in his career. 

The heartache does not just go. The harder you work the harder it is to loose. Something you sacrifice so long for, has become your life and it isn’t a simple answer. I personally as a coach am struggling almost beyond what I can handle. Jeffrey, in case there is reason to be called up, is still training to be ready. For him this is hard, but he doesn’t want regrets.

It has been my privilege and blessing to have been able to coach my two kids throughout their careers. I couldn’t be more honored. 

Many of you came, called, wrote, left messages that have overwhelmed us in a positive way. Again, we so wanted to give you all an Olympic experience with our Olympic story. It will not be, but know we will stay strong and your part and faith in us will be forever etched in our hearts and minds....of course we know to trust in God's plan and realize in the light of eternity where this moment stands.

Nancy Sr.