MILWAUKEE — The travel and training schedule can be gruesome for Olympic athletes, but a Waukesha speedskater is preparing for another Olympic Games in a place he’s called home.
Mitch Whitmore is hoping the third time’s the charm when he takes the ice to compete with the US Olympic Speedskating Team in the upcoming Winter Olympics.
“The focus all season really was on the Olympics. In the past it’s been making the Olympic team, but this time I was in a position that I was pretty sure I was gonna make it. The goal is performing at the Games,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore won the 500-meter trials and finished third in the men’s 1,000-meter trials, qualifying for his third Olympics team, and now, as the training ramps up, the ultimate motivator will no doubt be his competitors.
“I know most of our team feels the same way. Once we really see the people we’re really competing against, it raises it to the next level. For me, just not do too much. There’s so many things, so many activities you can do, so many events to see. I need to focus on my own skating and if that means not walking in open ceremonies, then so be it. Be there for a speedskating race. I’m not there to go and watch everything else. I’m there to do the best I can,” Whitmore said.
And what better place to train for your third Olympic Games than the same place where his speedskating career began.
“I’ve skated many many laps here in Milwaukee so to be back here leading us into the Olympics is pretty fun. I know I can hit up all my old food spots, see some friends and my family is still in town, so yeah, it’s been a lot of fun,” Whitmore said.
Fun — but business. It’s a balance Whitmore has been working toward since his first Olympic Games, with a 27th place finish in Sochi. He’s taking the lessons learned four years ago and the expectations for his 500-meter race are high.
“You know going into the World Championships last season, it was also in Korea — same ice we will be skating on in the Olympics. That’s how I try to take it. I was picturing myself at the Olympics, this season. In our sport, the World Championships are the same level as the Olympics. We just have one each season, so trying to even out the two is the goal,” Whitmore said.
And from one Wisconsin speedskater to another, Whitmore has spent plenty of time working alongside 1994 gold medalist Dan Jansen, soaking in as much valuable advice as possible.
“You know, talking to Dan, he’s got a really calm presence I feel like, just the way that him and I can analyze my races or my skating together has been a big tool for me. He’s really big on the mental aspect of just slowing things down in my mind to make the skating better,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore is a medal favorite for the Olympic 500-meter race. The last time the US men won a medal for that event was back in 2006.