The U.S. Olympic Long Track Speedskating Trials have wrapped up at the Pettit National Ice Center in West Allis, WI. One of the big stories from the event is the emergence of 17-year-old skater Jordan Stolz of Kewaskum.
Now, the big focus over the next two weeks is whether the male and female skaters can stay safe from COVID-19 before heading to next month’s Winter Games in Beijing.
Stolz won the men’s 500 and 1000 meter races, setting track records in each. He told reporters that he thinks there’s a good chance he can win a medal in the Olympics.
“I think I can get in the top five at the Olympic Games. Then, if somebody has a bad race or something, you know, there’s always that possibility for a medal, first, second or third,” Stolz said.
But any hopes of picking up a medal in Beijing will depend on avoiding the current surge of COVID-19.
Shane Domer is the High-Performance Director for the group that oversees the Olympians, US Speedskating. Domer said the athletes will have basic protocols to follow while training or at home.
“Not going to restaurants, ordering out when they can. Having groceries delivered. Not taking public transportation when they can,” Domer told WUWM.
Domer said most skaters will be training in Salt Lake City before leaving for China. He said there would also be a lot of mask-wearing, distancing, and disinfecting.
Also, Domer said, there will be a lot of testing for COVID-19, “to make sure in these training environments, we can catch someone who may have been exposed and may have the virus. So, we can minimize the exposure to teammates.”
The speedskaters also celebrated, after the Trials ended.
While at least one of the skaters, Joey Mantia, criticized the holding of the trials, even with spectators banned from the Pettit Center, another skater heading to Beijing expressed confidence in staying away from COVID-19.
Mia Manganello Kilburg told the news media on Sunday evening, “We experienced this COVID crap for the past two years. We’re prepared.”