Speed skater Tucker Fredricks will compete in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The 29-year-old has been one of the top speed skaters in the United States for more than a decade. He’s hoping to take home his first Olympic medal in Sochi.
Here’s what you need to know about Fredricks:
1. Due to Safety Concerns, He Asked His Family to Stay Home During the Olympics
The threat of terrorism in Russia has raised serious concerns about the safety of athletes and spectators at the Sochi Olympics. Tucker Fredricks is among those alarmed by the recent bombings and the overt threats by local terrorist groups to carry out an attack at the Games. For that reason, he’s asked his family to stay in his native Wisconsin during the Olympics, ESPN reported in January.
Although security is extremely tight, U.S. officials have expressed concerns with certain aspects of Russia’s emergency response plan.
ABC News reported the story.
2. His Wife Eriko Seo is a Retired Olympic Speed Skater
In 2010, Fredricks married Eriko Seo, a former Olympic speed skater for Japan. Seo, 34, was an Olympian in 2002 and 2006, competing in the women’s 3,000-meter event.
3. He Grew Up Playing Hockey
Growing up in icy Wisconsin, Fredricks put on skates almost as soon as he learned to walk. But before finding speed skating, he was a hockey player. According to his 2006 Olympic profile, he started winning “fastest skating” competitions at youth hockey tournaments when he was nine. By the time he was 12, the 5-foot-6 Fredricks realized he was too small to play hockey and opted to focus his efforts solely on long-track speed skating.
After high school graduation, Fredricks moved to Salt Lake City to train with other members of the national team.
4. He’s Coming Off the Worst Season of His Career
Fredricks burst onto the international skating scene as a teenager, winning the gold medal in the 500-meter event at the 2003 World Junior Championships. Over the next decade, the Janesville, Wisconsin, native accrued 31 World Cup medals (12 gold, six silver, 13 bronze) and two World Cup titles.
Watch Fredricks win the 500-meter event at the 2013 World Cup Finals in Calgary.
But as all athletes ultimately do, Fredricks is beginning to slow down. He hit the low point of his career during the 2012-2013 season, where he reached the podium just twice.
Fredricks, who suffers from a bulging disc, pointed to smart training as a key to his success in Sochi, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel::
The recovery time, being older, I see it’s taking a little longer. I definitely have to be more aware of the amount of training I do and I have to be smart about it. I know certain workouts are going to aggravate my back. I’ll do therapy with our trainer and then ice and stretching after those workouts.”
5. Sochi Will Likely Be His Last Olympics
In all likelihood, the Sochi Games will be the last time Fredricks straps on the skates as an Olympic competitor. Although he hasn’t captured a medal in Olympic competition, the dream of standing on the podium still drives Fredricks as he approaches the twilight of his skating career.
He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Well, I should probably say (it doesn’t matter), but I have to say it does. I know at the end of the day I have my family and my wife. But, yeah, that’s what I’ve been skating all these years for. To say I don’t want a medal would be a lie. I’m still going for that Olympic dream.”
You can follow Fredricks on Twitter at @tuckerfredricks.