2008 I can sum up into one post for both indoor and outdoor. Indoor I skated pro all year getting some experience racing with those guys what I still have NSC to thank, but wish I would have just done so much sooner was believe what I could do. I always new I was fast enough to race anyone, and sometimes it was there but until I started NSC if Will or Steve were in front of me I simply didn't think to pass them because they were suppose to win, if I finished behind them it was still news.
Indoors we had a lot of wheel issues at nationals for what would end up as my last year with MPC. I was 100% dedicated and loyal through everything. Even when the wheel didn't perform like we expected it to I never switched wheels until they gave me a set of competitor wheels and told me to put them on. When I put on other wheels, I made sure to salvage the championships. Skating poorly due to equipment in the 1000m and 500m I switched in the 2000m and broke a 10yr record by eight seconds. I remember my last 5 of my 20 were all under 8.5 and I managed to get third overall, an accomplishment in itself.
Outdoor I viewed trials as a formality. I wanted to prove I would be going to worlds the top junior sprinter and I let the chip on my shoulder be known. I broke two records that year at trials. Won both TT and got ready for worlds. I practiced my sprint a lot leading into residency in worlds that year. I had just moved that year which forced me to drive much further to practices and instead of being able to skate to a practice location I was stuck searching for somewhere new to train alone.
When I got to worlds I couldn't figure the track out to save my life I felt like. I kept thinking I had it down and next thing I knew I was barking or slipping again because my line was poor. I think I proved it in the 300m. I qualified 8th overall for the 300m, and got 5th in the 300m final but I left a lot to be desired after barking in turns two and three. Fifth place was cool but still left me unsatisfied. The next day I didn't get to skate what I thought could have been my best race, the 1000m. The coach told me he didn't even consider me for the race because it's not a sprinters race. Which pissed me off a lot at the time, and maybe still does a little. 7 out of 8 finalist for the 1000m that year were in the top 12 for the 300m and through all of our training I never finished worse than 2nd for the 1000m all at fast speeds.
I remember I called Jeff on skype of course, and told him what happened. I remember he asked if I would be in the 500m the day after and I told him I should be and he said simply, show them what you can do.
The day of the 500m I was still bitter or angry. And at that stage I was still an ipod-on-in-the-zone-kind-of-guy. I remember the heat I came out at 100% and 50m into the race I already had 15m to spare on the field. Safe cruising from there. Fast-forward through the quarter(i won) to the semi. I had 4th overall in the 300m in my semi and one of the best jr sprinters from Australia in it. I came from behind in the semi and won that too. Afterward I realized my semi and quarter were the fastest two jr 500's thus far. In the final I knew a medal was within reach. I had beaten one of the skaters in the final in my quarter and semi but I was skating so well that day I wanted gold. I remember off the line I was in fourth where I wanted to be basically because the favorite was in front of me. Then I remember one skater tripping and out of reaction I grabbed his hips to hold him up then on his next cross his left foot came through and took my skates right out from under me.. My medal dreams were dashed. I remember getting up and wanting to get off the track, not finish, wanting to go hide out and shed a tear or two for myself.
But I had a relay final to skate, if the 500 did anything for me it was make me hungrier for the relay gold. I had a goal to get an individual medal but I could still win a relay medal along the way. I was in a pissed off and disappointed zone before the relay. I made the decision to push the pace in the relay before we ever warmed up. I wanted to be in the front and if we were going to lose it was going to be because someone was better then us. After my first time out we led every exchange until four laps to go. I was coming out for my exchange at which point I decided to go full 100% and see if I could open the race up a bit but before I ever got going a competitor cut into our relay line knocking me down, this video doesn't show much of the contact but you can tell someone falls.. that's me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqeRkXUDFLc
I felt back after that, mostly because I think we had a very good chance at winning that relay, the few times anyone passed us we moved right back up to the front. Although I couldn't really control it I still feel like there's a medal Jake, Jonathan, and I left in Spain.
Falling twice in a span of an hour on your knee, shin, leg does quite the damage. That night I couldn't put weight on it. The next day for road practice I didn't skate. I remember telling Jeff I wasn't sure if I would be able to skate the 200m and he asked me if I was healthy would I be the best bet to skate it and I said yeah, so he told me to skate it so I did. I couldn't feel my left foot and I didn't make the 200m final, I got 13th with my leg still swollen there wasn't much I could do. I salvaged what I could out of the rest of worlds that year but the falls on the track didn't leave me in a good spot for road.
Someone came up to me after track at worlds and told me if anyone deserved to win a gold medal it was me, that it was tough to watch my fall in the 500m and then again to see it all happen just an hour later in the relay. I had never spoken to this person before, nor had I ever met them. It didn't help me really, but it still felt good for someone to recognize me even without any accomplishment.