Our Story

It all started long ago
1968, Nancy Sr speedskating at a local
pond in Park Ridge, IL
At the age of 12, our mom was invited by a man named Mr. Widmark to speedskate for a small club in Park Ridge, a western suburb of Chicago. She used her brother’s worn black speed skates when all the other girls wore figure skates. Nancy Sr. would later become the first US female to compete in 4 winter Olympics, a two-time world record holder, and represent the US on its national speedskating team for several years between 1976 and 2002. For her, she thinks of competing in the 1988 Olympics after giving birth to Nancy Jr. only a year before as her greatest accomplishment.

Dragged to the ice rink
1988, Winter Olympics in Calgary, Nancy Sr
with Nancy Jr
In the early 90’s, not long after we both had been walking, mom would throw skates on Nancy Jr. and I at the rink in Milwaukee and let us skate for hours while she was training for the 1992 Olympic trials. To pass the time on the ice, we both tried to set our records for most laps skated in a session while sometimes jumping over all the lines painted under the ice as if they were cracks on sidewalks. Yet, by the time Nancy Jr. and I were well into elementary school, we had left speed skating behind for sports such as swimming, track, baseball, wrestling, and others.

Not finished for good!
In 2000, with an old pair of skates sitting in the back of our car and Nancy Sr. about to stop coaching the Park Ridge club she grew up skating in, Nancy Jr and I put skates on for the heck of it one night and joined the other kids on the ice. Nancy Jr. never looked back. Within 2 years, she qualified for the 2002 US Olympic Trials along with Nancy Sr. and by 2005 she made her first US World Cup Team. As for me, skating became my winter sport as it fell between football and baseball or tennis seasons. But In 2006 I was just barely able to qualify to compete in the US Olympic Trials that year which was the coolest thing ever!

The Crew
2002, Nancy Sr and Nancy Jr warming up
together before they raced each other in
the US Olympic Trials
Even before Nancy Jr. and I started speedskating again, Nancy Sr. had been coaching a scrawny little kid named Brian Hansen from Northbrook, IL. Ever since the three of us skated our first practice together we have made a great team and have helped make each other better and better over the years. Brian has become an incredible skater with amazing endurance and is currently one of the top speedskaters in the world. Our crew leader is and always will be “tough as nails” coach Nancy Sr. She has been our coach since day one and has believed in us and dedicated all that she has to help us achieve our best.

Struggling with anemia during the 2006 Torino Olympic Trials
By the beginning of the 2005-06 season, Nancy Jr. realized that she had a shot to make the 2006 US Olympic Team. In an October race, she placed 3rd overall in the US and was only improving going into the December US Olympic Trials. Yet, as Nancy Jr. arrived in Salt Lake City to prepare a few weeks before the Trials, she began to feel unusually tired and her training performance decreased rapidly. She soon found out her blood was anemic and Salt Lake’s high altitude level significantly induced anemic symptoms. But it was a little too late, Nancy Jr. started recovering from the diagnosis but by the day of racing she still hadn’t come around to 100% and missed qualifying for the 3,000 meters by one spot.

Nancy Jr. and Brian Qualifying for Vancouver 2010
2010, Nancy competing in the 3,000 meters
at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver
After the 2006 Trials, Nancy Jr. enrolled in Wheaton College and competed in collegiate swimming. But a year later, she was skating again and in 2009 she became the US All-around Champion. This time around she was determined to make the team and two months before the Olympics, with 3 more years of training under her belt, she qualified for the 3,000 meters and the Team Pursuit race. Brian Hansen also qualified in 2 races.  In Vancouver, Nancy Jr. skated to a surprising 9th place finish in the 3,000 meters. Also in the Team Pursuit race, her team knocked off the gold medal favorite Canadian team on their home turf in the first heat but then just missed a medal spot with a fourth place finish after losing the second heat and third place final. Brian won a silver medal after an epic round of Team Pursuit heats and also placed 18th in the 1500 meters.

Deciding between football and skating
I had been juggling school, football, tennis and speedskating throughout middle school and high school years. I had qualified to compete in the 2006 Olympic Trials but by the time the 2010 Olympic Trials I had stopped speedskating and played wide receiver on the football team during my freshman year at Wheaton College. It was after the football season and while watching the Vancouver Olympics that I decided to jump back into speedskating and focus and becoming the best I could be in this sport.

The three of us back together for Sochi 2014
With our crew back together, the three of us trained together with Nancy Sr. during the time between Vancouver and Sochi, also inviting skaters from other countries such as Germany, Taiwan, Japan and the Netherlands to skate with our team. Eventually, Brian Hansen started getting on the podium, earning a total of 13 World Cup medals and 2 World Championship medals. Nancy Jr. on the other hand was plagued with a different injury each of the seasons leading up to the Olympic Trials including a torn hamstring, stress fracture and degenerative lower back vertebrae which eventually took a big toll on her performance. All I was trying to do was catch up to these two amazing athletes so we could all make them Olympic team together! At the Sochi Olympic Trials, just two weeks before the Olympics Games, Brian Qualified to compete in 4 different events in Sochi but unfortunately Nancy Jr. and I each were 5 spots away from an Olympic berth in our best race (with me eventually being disqualified in that race for a rule about crossing over a line). We cheered on Brian from the US, watching him skate to 7th, 7th and 9th places.

Post Sochi. PyeongChang?
Since Sochi, school has become a priority, with Nancy Jr. planning to graduate from Wheaton College and Brian transferring as a Junior from Marquette University to the University of Colorado, Boulder. On the other hand, I am getting a taste of my own medicine (when I ditched Nancy and Brian to go to college from 2009/10–2010/11)) as I am now training solo this season to make and compete on the US World Cup team this coming season. And hopefully while Brian has fun not-training in school and being a ski-bum, I can catch back up to his speedskating abilities :)

-by Jeffrey