Meet Jerica, a LOCAL US Speedskating Team Athlete

Utah Olympic Oval

Since 2013, in partnership with Gossner Foods, we have been proud product sponsors of the US Speedskating Team – making sure that milk is available to all athletes after training and competition. Located right here in Kearns, Utah, just west of Salt Lake City, the US Speedskating team calls the Utah Olympic Oval home. The Oval was built for the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and skaters boast that Utah has the “fastest ice on earth”-  a place where national and world records are routinely broken. This weekend, skaters from all over the world congregate in Utah to compete in the International Skating Union’s (ISU) Long Track World Cup event – the second in a series of competitions through spring of 2016. If you have never been to a speedskating event, it’s worth going – the energy of the fans, the athleticism of the competitors, and the thrill of anticipating a new record, is well worth bundling up. To get you excited, let’s get to know one of the rare, LOCAL US Speedskating athletes:

Jerica Tandiman is a 21 year old Utah native who competes in the 500 and 1000 as a long track speedskater. She actually grew up just around the corner from the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns where she first got interested in skating at the age of 7.

So what got you into speedskating?

When the Olympics were here in 2002, they started building this rink. Before that, it was an outdoor rink and as kids my parents would take me and my sisters to skate just for fun. As soon as they built the rink they said, “oh lets sign you up for skating lessons, that would be really cool,” so I started skating lessons. I was immediately drawn to the speed skaters because speed skaters from all the different countries were here training and preparing for the Olympics and it was just so cool to me. So I was like “Mom I want to do that!” and she signed me up. So….I’ve just stuck with it since then.

How did your progression work – from skating lessons as a kid to making the US Speedskating Team?

I progressed from the Learn-to-Skate program into the club program where there were a lot of kids my age. We had races just for fun and then we started traveling for competition. That was so fun for me – Just to travel and race. At first it would be like oh fifth place and I was super excited, and slowly over the years, I would take second or third place and then win a couple and I just loved it. I was hooked and felt like, oh I gotta go race, I can’t wait until the next season to go race at nationals.

Then I turned 14 and I competed at Junior Trials which is a competition to see if you can make the Junior World Team. I was young. Most people don’t make the Junior World Team until they’re 18 or 19 – the older end of Juniors. But I happened to make it that year when I was 14, and I made it every year after that. So I made 5 Junior World Teams and was able to travel to different countries and compete. It was really cool.

What’s a typical training day like for you?

I usually get here around 8 am depending on the day. We usually do a warm up then get on the ice and do our workouts. Sometimes we have dry-land workouts afterwards or jogging or cycling intervals or something similar to that and then that will be my morning. And then we usually have a lunch break where we can go home, rest, take a power nap if we want; eat some food. Then we come back about 2 o’clock in the afternoon and we are here either doing weights, cycling, or running. Sometimes another ice workout. Then I go to work. (Jerica works at a local sporting goods store, and she also works at the Oval in their Guest Services area.)

What’s the biggest challenge to performing at a high level consistently?

I think the biggest challenge has to be being physically and mentally prepared. It takes a lot of strength training and you have to be physically prepared, but you also have to be mentally prepared. You have to be mentally strong and have enough confidence to know that you are going to skate well and enough confidence that you can skate how you’re training. You know, there’s a huge difference between training well and then racing well. So I think the big thing is being prepared to race and being confident in yourself and your training.

What about nutrition – what role does that play in your preparation?

Nutrition is a big thing because if I’m not eating well then I know training is that much harder because I’m tired, I’m sluggish. So I have to make sure I’m making good choices with what I eat – balancing the proper amount of protein, carbs, making sure I get the vegetables and fruits to get the vitamins and minerals my body needs. Good nutrition makes a huge difference in energy levels and how much harder you can train and your fatigue.

So, you know I work for dairy farmers 🙂 Tell me about the milk that’s available to you after training. Do you feel it makes a difference in your training performance?

I do! I think it’s helpful in recovery to get that right away. Sometimes we have to bring our own stuff for recovery or we have to wait until we get home for recovery. I think recovery is super important – to get that as soon as possible, so having it right there when we get off the ice is really nice.

What can people expect to see this weekend at the World Cup?

They will be able to see lots of fast skaters. These are the best skaters in the world, and because we have the fastest ice on earth, they can expect to see lots of national records broken, and maybe even some world records. I mean it’s going to be a good weekend with fast skaters.

Jerica won’t be on the ice this weekend but look for her on the World Cup circuit later this spring and look for her to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2018!

World Cup Speedskating 2015

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