Jordan Belchos wants to go the full distance at Sochi Olympics
Speed skater awaits word on making the team
Jordan Belchos poured it all out on the ice, and now it’s a matter of waiting on word whether his Olympic speed skating dream will come true.
“I've put so much time and emotion and everything into this for so many years, it would mean so much to me,” Belchos said last week.
Belchos, 24, said the toughest part is seeing good friends and teammates - who’ve already booked their ticket in long track - training in anticipation for Sochi.
The skater’s fate has been in the balance for some time, and will not be dependent on a national federation making a subjective evaluation on the merits of two or more athletes, as sometimes happens.
And it won’t be a case of a veteran athlete with a poor recent result nevertheless being chosen due to their extensive career output, as happened the past weekend with the U.S. ladies figure skating team.
Instead, in what Belchos described as a “convoluted” process, he will await word from the International Skating Union over the number of overall spots Canada will receive for Sochi (it will be between eight and 10), and whether one will become available for his signature event.
Belchos’s only shot for qualifying for Sochi is in the 10,000 metre event. It’s an Olympic distance, but a race run infrequently on the World Cup circuit.
Whereas Belchos is among a number of men who can ably represent Canada on the world stage in the 5,000 - he finished fourth at the national trials in Calgary earlier this month - he is a cut above nationally at the longer distance.
The Toronto native won in the 10,000 by about 30 seconds over the second place finisher at the recent trials, his training partner Stefan Waples of Winnipeg.
But that result mattered less than what transpired weeks ago.
“My situation's been exactly the same pretty much since the World Cup in Kazakhstan at the end of November,” said Belchos.
Belchos crossed in a time of 13 minutes, 24.69 seconds at that race in Astana, Kazakhstan. He didn’t have the benefit of a rival helping him dig deeper, as the South Korean he was drawn with pulling out before the race.
Belchos had the 20th fastest time, and only 16 qualify for the Sochi competition. The Germans and Dutch had four skaters entered in Astana, however, one more than has been the case per country in the 10,000 at recent Olympics.
So Belchos will need athletes from other countries deciding it’s an event not worth pursuing due to their commitments in the team pursuit, which begins three days after the 10,000.
Back on track after concussion
Belchos made impressive gains in 2012-13, setting personal best times in the 5,000 and 10,000 and earning silver at one of the mass start races, an event not run at the Olympics.
Off-season training was hampered for a time by a concussion suffered in a cycling accident in June, but Belchos considered himself all the way back by the time of the Canadian team trials in October.
“I knew the level of competition is a lot higher in Olympic years than it is in any other year, I knew the world would be better,” he said.
Belchos said he was too amped up for the World Cup opener in Calgary, but has no regrets about the Astana race under the circumstances.
If Belchos doesn’t hear the words he’d like, he’s going to spend some time taking stock on whether to make a bid in the next four-year cycle that leads to South Korea for the 2018 Olympics. It could involve picking up his studies at university again, possibly pursuing urban studies or industrial design.
After competing in hockey and inline skating as a youth, Belchos has been pursuing long track in earnest for nearly a decade. Aside from the occasional weightlifting session, he enjoys everything about the sport, from training to qualifying races to World Cup competition.
One thing’s certain: If he continues to compete after not making the Sochi team, he’ll be looking to make major changes.
“If I’m going to stick around for another four years I'm not going to stick around to 'maybe' make the Olympic team in 2018,” said. “It's going to be to make it for sure and to contend for a medal.”
While Belchos will probably get a heads-up, the rest of us will find out all of the names of the Canadian long track team on Jan. 22.