Becky Sundstrom, winner of the World Juniors 1995 PDF Tulosta Sähköposti
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08.02.2011 10:50

Anni Friesinger (left), Becky Sundstrom and Chris ScheelsBecky, how is your life today? 
I live in Vancouver,USA, in the state of Washington, which is a 15 minute drive from Portland in the state of Oregon. It is very different from Milwaukee or Salt Lake City or Seinajoki, because we don't have much winter weather here. Mostly rain and sun!  My family owns a home building business called Evergreen Homes NW, and I am the marketing manager. It's a rich experience being part of a family business, and I feel very lucky.  I am married to former speedskater Nick Thometz, and we have two energetic and lovely children. Sam is 6 years old and Lena is 4 years old.

Still skating?
I retired after the 2003 skating season, and had a very satisfying final year on the World Cup/Championship circuit. I competed in both Nagano Japan in the 1998 Olympic Games and in Salt Lake City in the 2002 Olympic Games. I struggled in the years leading up to the 2002 Olympics and felt very dispirited with how poorly I was performing. In my final season, I changed everything. My attitude most of all. I realized that I was trying so hard, I had forgotten how to enjoy speedskating. That is the most important lesson I learned, and one I would like to remind those Junior skaters competing in Seinajoki to remember as they get better and more serious about speedskating (and life!). You must take pleasure in what you do. It must be as integral to your approach as working hard and pushing yourself to go further, to do better, to be tougher. Pleasure and excitement translate to positive energy, and with positive energy you can accomplish so much more than just applying dogged determination.

I am still skating. We have a small club called the Mountain View Speedskating Club, and we practice short track speedskating on a local hockey rink. It's a lot of fun. My mom and dad as well as my sisters Tama and Shana and our husbands are all part of the club, along with the six oldest cousins and a bunch of other local folks who have learned to love the sport.

The most memorable event? 
Winning the Junior World Championships in Seinajoki stands out, because the first big success is burned into your memory. Also, while I hoped to do well and finish in the top 3, I never expected to be able to win. Anni Friesinger was a formidable opponent. I respected and admired her. To win was an incredible feeling of accomplishment! I also remember well some specific races from later years. My 1000m event at the 1998 Olympics was a very good race. I finished 6th place and skated aggressively and with good technique. 

The benefits of your speed skating career?
It was a fantastic adventure. I learned so much about the kind of person I am, the strength I have. I learned how to handle incredible disappointment as well as satisfying success. I learned how sometimes you have to take a step back and think, "There is a better way to improve. What can I do to refresh my approach." That is such a good life lesson. You don't give up. You don't give in. But you also don't just keep doing what you were doing. You have to keep thinking of better ways to maximize yourself.

Becky SundstromMemories from Seinäjoki 1995?
I was 18 years old and this was my 4th and final Junior World Championship competition.  I remember that two days before the competition started, I skated one of the worst "all-out" (racing preparation) laps of my season. I was not worried. I don't know why! I thought, "Forget about it. Friday will be different." And it was. I won the 500m. My parents arrived in time to see me race. It was a long trip for them, but they had a wonderful time. And having them there to see me do well made it even more special. The athletes were burning with excitement to race. Bob de Jong won the men's title with a fantastic 5,000m event. Chris Scheels, my friend and teammate, finished 3rd overall. I remember standing on the podium for the final time, with Chris and Anni. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the snow sparkled. I received a medal for each race, as well as the most interesting bouquet of flowers I had ever seen. That last time up on the podium, I looked out at everyone who had gathered, my coach and teammates, my mom and dad, the spectators and I thought, "Wow. I will never forget this moment and this feeling." And I haven't! I made friends in Seinajoki that are still my friends today. Other skaters from Germany and Korea, from Finland (Janne Hanninen), Japan and Russia. 

Found family in Finland!
Also, I have kept the newspaper articles that were printed in the local newspaper.  I will never forget seeing my name written in the Finnish style! Sundstrominen with the two dots over the "o".  Janne Hanninen would translate for me!

I have family from Finland. My great-grandparents were Swedish and emigrated from Finland to live in the northern United States. I still have family living outside of Helsinki.  On Monday following the Junior World Championships, I got a message from them at my hotel saying, "Congratulations". It was so incredible.  I didn't really know they were nearby. It was very fun to go home and call my Grandma and Grandpa and tell them that I had spoken to family from the old-country!

I have been in Finland twice. I came again for a World Cup in Helsinki. Few places that I have skated have felt as different and beautiful. The language, the landscape, all the wood used in the buildings, the darkness in the winter, the friendliness of the people...it's a wonderful culture. I feel lucky to have experienced it.

It was fun to go back in time!  I wish you a successful event! My very best to all the competitors and the organizer

Warm regards, Becky Sundstrom

Viimeksi päivitetty 08.02.2011 11:17