Wisconsin’s Tucker Fredricks Goes for Gold Tonight

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By: Melissa S. Wollering

While you and I were watching the Opening Ceremonies Friday, Tucker Fredricks (who had the opportunity to experience it live) wasn’t.  He was training for his event, the Men’s 500m Speedskating.

Tucker made his Olympic debut in 2006 in Torino, Italy and finished 25th with a performance he admits he was less than pleased with. He says his results in Torino reflect the way he practiced in his late teens–lacking consistency, intensity and mental focus.

Since 2006, Fredricks’ training has epitomized all three.  Now he hopes to leave the results of Torino in the ice shavings of Vancouver.

“The goals speedskaters set for themselves are very different; anything from just feeling good on their skates to winning Olympic gold,” says Fredricks.  “A few of the goals I would still like to accomplish would be to earn the
title of World Record holder in the 500m, and yes, an Olympic Gold Medal in the 500m.”

Janesville native Tucker Fredricks gets that chance today, with primetime NBC television coverage of his second race tonight.

The 500m is the only event in long-track skating with more than one heat. The combined times determine the standings.  The second of the two heats will reportedly be aired on NBC tonight around 7:30 p.m.

Athletes race one heat starting in the inner lane and then switch to the outer lane for the second, or vice versa. This levels the field because it tends to be more difficult for skaters in the inner lane to maintain their speed on the final curve.

In Race 1 today, 25-year-old Fredricks was to be matched with The Netherlands’ Ronald Mulder.  Tucker was assigned the outside lane, so he’ll take the inside lane tonight in primetime.

Speedskaters from the U.S. have won the last two 500m Olympic golds–Joey Cheek in 2006 and Casey FitzRandolph in 2002.  Casey still holds the Olympic record for the race with a time of 34.42 on February 11, 2002.  The World Record is held by Jeremy Wotherspoon of Canada with a time of 34.03.  If Tucker takes gold Monday, it would be the 8th gold medal for the U.S. in the 500m in Olympic history.

Fredricks ranked third in the 2008-2009 World standings. Prior to Vancouver, he medaled in all four World Cups he skated in this season–one gold, one silver and two bronze. He also holds the American record in the 500m with a time of 34.31.

The talent is tough in the 500m event and predictions vary; 10-12 of the competitors in this event have a legitimate chance of winning. Fortunately for Tucker, what some of those men don’t have is support of fans from The Midwest.

“I’m very proud to be from the Midwest. It’s a great place to grow up and the quality of people is just amazing. I’ve had a lot of support from the people in my hometown and I hope I can make them proud.”

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Comments

  1. You’ve been quite prolific over the past week in your article production- I’m seriously regretting giving that final douchebracket to fill out to McCormick now.

    Your tv guide for the olympics is a very useful posting too. I’ve gone back to look at that piece a couple each times each of the past couple days.

    Bummer Tucker is in 15th after the first couple events…he’ll pick up the pace and do Janesville proud though!

  2. Fredricks finishes 12th… disappointing but better than his 25th place finish in 2006.

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