When I saw Cynthia at the top of Lookout Mountain, I was taken by the fact that she had a cycling jersey that said “Utah Speed Skating”. It turns out that the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating team cycles during the summer to stay in shape for, in this case, long track speed skating.
Cynthia grew up in Aurora with two older brothers. She started skating as a figure skater, but only really wanted to skate fast. She attended Smoky Hill High School and was a swimmer and then a rower. She went to college at Ohio State University and was a member of the collegiate rowing team. But then she learned to speed skate.
As she counseled me- Apollo Ono was a short track (200 meters) speed skater. There are only three indoor long track (400M) speed skating ovals in the United States located at Lake Placid, New York, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Salt Lake City, Utah. A skater at the Utah Olympic Training Center spends about four to five months on the development team. Then a skillful skater gets promoted to the F.A.S.T. team. Cynthia spent 3.5 years at that level. She and her teammates would train two workouts a day, consuming five to six hours, five or six days a week…and hold down a job at the same time. Fortunately she was educated in G.I.S. or geographical information systems (mapping), so she could work from home. Her goal was to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 1000M or 1500M event, but she missed the qualifying time by less than a second.
But when she joined the summer cyclists to stay in shape for skating, she was dropped off the back of the pack all too quickly. Then the figured out how to stay up. And to quote her this morning at the bottom of Lookout Mountain after she ascended Lookout ahead of two other members the Petunia Mafia,”Cycling is the best thing that I got out of skating.” Maybe…but speed skating still lurks in the back of her mind and she does not rule out returning to the ice at some point. She still likes to skate (and cycle) fast.