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I started speed skating on ice in 1985. My cycling coach, Mike Walden, suggested that I start speed skating in the winter to cross-train for cycling. Well, I bought a pair of used outdoor skates from John Coyle, went down to the local ice arena and started skating at adult open skating. I had grown up on hockey skates and this was quite a change for me. It was pretty scary at first, but then the old speed skaters at the rink (Eddie, Julian, Joe, & Ed) took me under their wings and showed me the ropes. I began to improve day by day, then the big help came when Jim Smith and Clare Young showed up at the rink. A few tips from these two seasoned veterans and I was well on my way to becoming a speed skater.
In the summer of 1986 I went to a speed skating clinic at Northern Michigan University and it was one of the best choices I have ever made. When I was at the clinic I decided that I would like to attend the University full time: so I did. In the fall of 1986 I began my college career and I also started speed skating full time at the Great Lakes Training Center/U.S. Olympic Education Center. We had ice time everyday. In the winter we had indoor ice in the morning and we skated on the 400 meter Olympic Outdoor Oval in the afternoon and evening. It was a speed skater's paradise. I started racing and traveling around the Midwest to races. I improved quite a bit in one year. In 1987 I finished third in the 500 meter at the Outdoor Speed Skating Nationals.
I owe my quick improvement to Tim Sipes. Tim was a fellow skater at the Training Center and he helped me a great deal. Tim also introduced me to the somewhat obscure sport of Barrel Jumping. Barrel Jumping was a sport tailor made for a guy like me--I wasn't a pretty skater, but I could generate enough speed to be dangerous. So Barrel Jumping was an opportunity for me to use my burst of speed then hurl myself over the waiting barrels. Tim helped me with my jumping technique and I was on my way to becomming a world class barrel jumper. In 1988 in Alpena, Michigan I set a World Outdoor Barrel Jumping record clearing 17 barrels and flying over 26 feet. I was the U.S. National Champion from 1988 to 1991 when I moved to Hawai'i. In 1990 I went to Italy to represent the United States in the World Indoor Barrel Jumping Championships and in 1991 I was sent to France for the Championships. It is funny how things happen, and how one decision changes everything. Skating has helped me to develop who I am today. Thanks Tim!
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