Need for speed
Participating in a sport in which the main action is continually skating an oval may seem monotonous, but for junior Gunnar Lundberg, it has been a source of passion and energy for years.
February 23, 2015
As I walked down the track surrounding the skating oval, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would be there voluntarily.
It was cold, dark, and late on a Tuesday night. However, as soon as the skaters entered the oval, I began to understand. There was something tranquil about the speedskaters gliding across the ice in a straight line. After each loop around the oval, they start to pick up speed, with their coach giving encouraging comments as they passed, or stopping them to fix their form.
Junior Gunnar Lundberg described speedskating as “continually skating around in a circular motion.” He explained, however, that “there’s something exciting, exhilarating, and incredible about it,” and I started to understand this interpretation as I watched him skate. Lundberg is a part of club, Midway Speedskating, which is based at the Roseville Oval. With his club, he competes primarily individually. “I compete alone in the majority of my events, although there are some team skates,” Lundberg said.
In addition to skating at the Roseville Oval, Lundberg often travels to different ovals to compete in other races throughout the U.S. and Canada, which can qualify him for more competitive races. “I’ve been to a couple places a lot of times; I’ve been to Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, and Calgary. I participate in the American Cup Series, which usually has one meet at each oval, and at the end of the season, the points from all of the races are added up,” Lundberg said.
Lundberg’s goals, however, go beyond success just in America. He recently participated in the regional junior world cup in Calgary for the first time. “[To qualify], there are time standards you need to meet. After you meet them, you get the go-ahead from the U.S. speedskating director, which means that you are able to be a representation of the U.S.” Lundberg said.
Furthermore, he hopes to be able to participate in the junior world cup final, which takes place in Poland this January. “This is the big competition, where all of the countries come together,” Lundberg said.
After that, however, he’s not sure what his goals will be. Committing to speedskating is a risky choice, and Lundberg isn’t sure what his decision will be. “It’s difficult because I would have to base my college decision solely on [speedskating], and it would really limit my options. Also, there are no scholarships for it,” Lundberg said.
“If it were something I would pursue, it would purely be based on my passion for the sport,” Lundberg said. However, if Lundberg decided to pursue other options, there would be a lot about speedskating that he would miss. “I’d miss the people that I’ve met through it and that feeling that I get when I skate a person best,” Lundberg said.
Lundberg understands, however, that sports are so much more than just meeting new people. He knows that what he would miss the most would be that feeling of accomplishment and success. “[Speedskating] is a sport where you’re not really rewarded with fame or money, even if you’re really good at it, so the only real reward you get is internal. It’s just that fulfillment of yourself,” Lundberg said.
And this fulfillment that Lundberg seeks can be found in doing everything he can in order to reach his goals. “The ultimate passion comes of course from the aspiration of one day going to the Olympics. But it’s also knowing what I want to do or learning lessons about hard work that lead to achievement,” Lundberg said.
“I knew the dream was set in when I [skated] in Salt Lake City, which is an Olympic oval. On the back stretch, there’s a huge banner with a picture of speedskater and it says ‘Light the fire within.’ That was a moment for me, when I thought to myself ‘Wow this is something I have to stay with. This is something that really makes me happy,’” Lundberg said.