Friday, February 10, 2012

Age is nothing but a number! 8.53

8.53 seconds was the one lap time clocked for 36 year old Jeremy Anderson, 'the hammerin huskey' out of Federal Way, Washington in last night’s NSC 100m flying time trial event in flat track inline speed skating.  This was no fluke by any means as Anderson wasn’t the fastest man on skates just last night but rather the last 3 events in NSC wearing the black & yellow suit of #05.  Just two weeks ago he won this very same event with a similar time (8.51) & rewind back to last year’s season finale (May 2011) he was clocked at 26.4724 mph, an 8.45 sec lap, all on this 100m rotunda NSC flat track in WA.  At 36 years of age Anderson is now eligible for the Masters category (age 35-40 year olds) for the USARS indoor speed skating season and it would be safe to say that no Master wants a piece of what Anderson is handing out to some of the Pros at these events.

(above, Jeremy Anderson's time during the 100m flying time trial at NSC)
(above: Jeremy Anderson @ age 36 still one of the fastest men on skates in the U.S.)
Anderson isn’t exactly your text book skating athlete as he’s always trained and worked at his own pace on his own terms with his own unique regimen to say the least.  Calling it as it is, one cannot fault or question him as he puts up solid results, including a Senior Men’s title in 1997 and then winning Pro Men in 2005.  Seven years later when most in his field from the early days are keeping up with the sport online or from word of mouth, Anderson is aging, racing and still kicking a** while taking some of today’s pros to school for a little lesson in speed 101.  Don’t be mistaken if you think he’s just a one lap sap, this Tacoma native is competitive in any distance on any given race day.  Ironically, Anderson in the heat of the battle last night (Feb 9th, 2012) in the Grand Champions 800m final event went down hard in the final lap breaking his collar bone in two places obviously crushing his chances for a healthy race season. (**Note: since his crash, news that Anderson is in good spirits and started his recovery has been noted)

(above, race action, Anderson 'far left' tries to hold a corner after a high speed pass into 1st place, Season 2 NSC)

How does Anderson do it?  How is he able to get faster while others are slowing down?  Is he that genetically gifted or is he one of the smartest racers on the track?  Coming from a quad background he doesn’t exactly skate on his extreme edges most of the track compared to a Chad Horne (former US world team member & National champion) per se but he makes what he has been given extraordinary & his fans simply want more!  It wasn’t too long ago that I caught up with Jeremy Anderson and here’s my interview with the Master’s speed demon!

(Above, Anderson amused when asked if he's ready to take a beating in Master Men 2012)
(PS) So Jeremy, let’s get the mushy stuff out of the way shall we? How are you & what have you been up to lately?
(JA) I’m doing great, just working a lot, and trying to stay in shape for the upcoming season. I’ve been teaching at a local rink here in WA, helping the kids get ready for some big races, and also practicing at my club Pattison’s West. I’m having a lot of good practices, just trying to make as many as I can. I try to spend as much time with my kids, so I miss quite a few practices just to be with them!

(PS) How come we didn’t see you at Indoor Nationals last year?  Something more important?
(JA) Yes it’s true; I took my son to a Dance convention in Las Vegas. I made the decision last year after Nationals. Money has been a big deciding factor also, without a full Sponsor; I just can’t afford to do everything I want to. I wish I could go; I’ve been skating really well lately.
(above race action; Indoor Nationals, Anderson 'right' has his game face on)
(PS) So let’s get down to business.  You’re 35-36 and I think the older you get the faster you go. Do you honestly feel that way or do you feel differently?
(JA) I honestly feel that I am getting faster, could be the technology of the skates, wheels, and frames but you still need to have the legs to hold the corners right? :)
It’s been tough the past few years, I had knee surgery 2 years ago which put me back a ways. I still have pain from time to time, but I’m glad I had it done.
Now with NSC, racing the best guys in the world 4-5 times a year, I feel I will keep getting better as long as I go to practice, and race these guys on a regular basis!

(above, Anderson during his 100m flying time trial winning with an 8.45 sec lap)
(PS) What are your skating credentials?  National championships, records etc etc? (JA)Well I’ve been skating for 23 years now, I have won senior men indoor nationals once, Pro men once, and from 1995 to 2005 I was in the top 4 every year at USARS Nationals, I made pretty much every final, I have held many records which none are around today (haha). I have multiple medals from relays, also some records from relays. I placed 2nd in the X-Games downhill 1999, that was so fun! lol - I have done a little outdoors
(above, race action PRO Men at Indoor Nationals, Anderson sits in 2nd)
(PS) Even after you won senior men, why didn’t you just skate in your appropriate age division and try to win those divisions as well?
(JA) I felt that if I could keep up with these guys or WIN, I should try to stay in the Pro division, it has the best of the best in there and that’s what I wanted people to think about me.
I like people to say; wow that guy shouldn’t be in that division, and then make finals, or even place in that event. When you make a final in Pro you have already won, it is very hard to make a final, the heats and semis are usually faster than the final.

(above race action, Anderson sits in 3rd, Pro-Men in FL)
(PS) When do you think you’ll start to consider skating your age division or will you retire before that happens?
(JA) I think next year I will skate my division, I will be first year as a Master man. I will still skate the NSC races which are crazy fast. I know there are a lot of guys who are the same age or older that if they skated it would be a battle. They know who they are! You know how people come back to race, the difference is I never stopped, that will be my advantage.

(above race action, Anderson far left races Eben Jackson to the 2nd marker coming out of turn 2 at last year's NSC)
(PS) Do you think some skaters skate pro because it’s an “easy out”? Meaning, if they lose in PRO it’s understood because it’s PRO however if they skate their appropriate div whether it’s Jr.Men or Classic or whatever it’s a much tougher spot to be in!
(JA) I don’t think it’s an easy out for them in that aspect. I think they all want to try to run with the big boys, and then they can say they skate PRO! It also might be easier to skate PRO, then make it out of their division if it is tough. There are probably a lot of guys that shouldn’t be in there, but then I think how are they going to get better if they don’t try, keep trying! When PRO started, we had 60 guys tryout. Now there are only 18-25 maybe? If there is a chance you can win your division, or if you make finals all the time, then try at least one year to skate PRO.

(PS) I know you get this asked a lot but what’s your secret?  Is it the intensity or is it more natural or are you just damn right talented or gifted?  There’s no 36 year old in the country that can battle with the pros like you do. There are few I can think of in the world perhaps but not so much in the U.S.
(JA) Well my secret is technique, that’s what I work on. Turning corners is a very tough thing to do correctly so I study peoples feet, shoulders, head, where they step in the corner, then I go to work on making it better. Even being 36 is not that bad as long as you stay fit. Inline skating came very easy for me; I was able to lean into a corner at full speed before I knew what I was doing. I still feel that my technique, even natural ability has helped me throughout these years and will continue to help 

(PS) What is your weakness? Or weaknesses? What preparations do you do prior to race time?
(JA) I think my weakness is training outside of practice. I use to run stairs, skate a little outside, and now it is hard to get motivated to get out there and hurt myself, I usually wait to give 110% in my races, I really should train that way then racing would be easier. haha
I think a good attitude before any race is the key, if you go in there with a bad one you will most likely skate badly. Stay positive, even if you aren’t doing as well as you think you should, remember to have fun! I usually try to joke around with the guys before the race to break the ice.

(PS) You come from a huge quad background & you made the transition successfully obviously, but were you on board when inlines came around or were you that guy or tried fighting it and didn’t want to go down this road?
(JA) I definitely thought that inlines were a joke; I said I will NEVER wear those things! Then one meet I saw this guy blow by us and lap us in a 15 lap race, WOW! This guy was moving. I then put them on and started ripping corners. Ever since then I really never went back to quads. I love the speed of inlines. Now with the BIG wheels it is so much fun to rip an 8.5 or less per lap. I smile every time I can go that fast!!

(PS) One thing unique about you even from back in the day is that you’re an UP starter.  Even in quads, a down start was 99% how everyone started, but you have ALWAYS started up.  Why?  I’m sure you’ve had your share of false starts, has that cost you in short distances?
(JA) Starting down never felt comfortable to me, it hurt my knees. I always thought why do you guys start down if you have to get right back up again? If you skate up start up. LOL. I have always had a fast reaction and most of the time won starts in races. Sure I have had a few jumps, but who hasn’t; I don’t think that starting up makes you a “JUMPER”. Even if you start down you can jump, it’s all about reading the start judge. When you go down on the floor, try to time the starter that’s what I do, then you can get a feel for his or her trigger.
Why do all the guys in outdoor start up? Well it’s all up to the comfort in my opinion.

(PS) Who did you look up to when you were up & coming?
Wow there are so many, first was Doug Glass, he helped me a lot in the beginning, then of course Dante and Tony Muse. When I was Junior, Derek Parra told me to watch where I’m going when I was racing in Vegas, this made me feel great, even though it was not a nice thing that meant I was getting fast enough to race with the big boys haha. The list is big for people I looked up to, even if they were younger. I hope I have inspired kids, and adults just like these guys have to me.
(above Anderson mingles w/ the fans right before his 100m flying time trial)
(PS) You’re NEVER in the outdoor scene, why?  Aspirations to make the world team before?
What’s the best you’ve done outdoors?
(JA) Outdoor racing takes a lot of training, I live in Seattle where it rains way too much, maybe not a lot at one time but a constant drizzle. I have trained in the rain and it sucks, you really need to be on your skates to be good outdoors.
I really never tried to make the team, when I started getting to the point of being on top I already had a child, so had to have a steady job. Indoor was always at night after work, so it was very convenient to do that more than outdoor. I still skate outdoor when I can and if it is nice out. I think I have always been a top 10 guy at any outdoor meets I went to, except for marathons. That is a different thing all together, I have gotten top 10 at one Marathon, and get this, and it was when it was raining, haha!

(PS) You’ve been fortunate to train on some great National sized floors, how important has that been to your training?
(JA) Being on the Pattison’s Floor is the best. This floor is the fastest floor in the world. I have not skated on a better floor when it is tight. I think to train on a floor that is a good as the one I have, then it’s very important, but it can also make you spoiled. When you go to a floor that is not as good; most of our kids complain about it lol. So having a good floor can help and it can also mess you up. As for the National floor, we have a great advantage because we know where to step, we know how to pass, and are prepared for the overall speed. Thank you Mike Pattison!
(above, Jeremy Anderson's coach Mike Pattison & owner of Pattison's West in Federal Way, WA)
(PS) This might be your opportunity to speak to the masses out there skating or not. What do you have to say to anyone or everyone?
(JA) If you ever want to get into a sport that is a team sport, but also an individual sport this is the one. Once you hit that first corner and whip around the cone it is the best feeling. I do not think I will ever stop skating. I want to thank everyone who has beaten me, knocked me down, and who has given me a compliment. If it wasn’t for you I would not be doing this. Make sure that you are having FUN, without that you will never be happy, regardless of how many medals you get!!

(PS)THANKS again Jeremy, your help, input and knowledge about this sport is invaluable.
(JA)Thank you for letting me have this opportunity, I really do love this sport!!

There it is, Jeremy Anderson as you've never heard him before.  Wishing him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in the races real soon. Stay tuned as ATOM Wheels connects you to the world's best right here at ATOM WHEELS. If you really want to be in the 'know'. Make sure you 'Like' us on Facebook.  See you soon!

Pete Snell