Five minutes with speedskater Katherine Reutter

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Five minutes with speedskater Katherine Reutter

The Winter Olympics is just days away (the opening ceremony is Friday night) and W magazine’s Editors’ Blog is getting into the spirit. Tune in every day this week for interviews with female athletes going for the gold.

By the time you read this, speedskating champ Katherine Reutter will have already gone for a morning jog, lifted weights with her trainer, jumped rope in front of the Chinese flag (more on that later), run up and down hundreds of steps and, of course, made countless laps around the rink. But that’s par for the course, says the 21-year-old from Champaign, Illinois, who took home a bronze at the last games, in Torino. While speedskating may not be one of the most glamorous Olympic sports, the athlete—whose sponsors include Nike, Oakley, Verizon, PowerBar and her small town’s police department—is doing her best to bring some glory to the game. She’s also gotten a boost from her new number-one fan, Stephen Colbert, whose Colbert Nation raised $300,000 for the speedskating team.

blog_ruetter_01.jpgWord has it Chinese skater Wang Meng is your biggest competition in Vancouver. How can you beat her?
In the 1,500, our longest distance, she is better at sprint than she is at distance, so if it’s a slow pace, I need to go to the front and pick it up because she will rest and have plenty of energy to sprint later. But if it’s fast, she won’t have as much energy to pass at the end. So I’m going to have to straight-up be stronger than her. And in the 1,000, my strategy is a surprise attack. I’m not going to race her race, I’m going to force her to race the way I want.

And you jump rope in front of a Chinese flag while training? That’s so Rocky Balboa of you.
Well, I’m stronger in the endurance stuff than I am in the sprints. By jump roping, I try and force that fast twitch muscle to develop. When I get to the point where I’m ready to throw the jump rope down, I look up at the flag and I’m like, “Man, Meng’s already got that sprint! Jump roping comes easy to her. I’m going to jump rope until she doesn’t have any advantage over me.”

Are you training like crazy? Walk us through your day.
I’m usually at the rink at 7:40 in the morning. I go for a 30-minute run there and then our team warm-up starts at 8:10 with plyometrics, jumping, sprinting. Then we’re on the ice from 9 to 11. Then it’s time for technique or starts, and then we’ll have a dry land workout after that, anything from running to jumping to stair runs. Two times a week, we weight lift and run and do bike intervals, and the other two times, we get back on the ice for speed relays. Then we have another dry land workout and then an hour in the training room getting a massage and stretching. I usually finish my day with an icepack.

What’s your secret weapon on the ice?
My biggest strength is being able to skate on different tracks. So if I’m trying to go fast then I’ll enter and exit the corner wide because it’s most efficient to carry your speed, but if I’m going slow and I don’t want anyone to pass me, then I’ll enter and exit the corner tight.

Do you crash a lot?
I do and it hurts every time. One time I fell going into a corner and I hit the pads with my feet up in the air. I hit so hard that I slid underneath the pads and it strained my whole lower back. I had a portable stem machine on for two days. It sucked pretty bad.

blog_reutter_02.jpgYou recently went on Colbert Nation and Stephen Colbert autographed your thigh. What did he write?
He wrote “Stephen Colbert, go for the gold!”

The other guest on the show was Snoop Dogg, and Colbert talked about some secondhand smoke coming from his dressing room.
Well, I wasn’t particularly worried about it, but right when I got there the crew was like, “The green room’s downstairs, but we’re going to put you upstairs.” It was because Snoop Dogg was in the green room and the entire first floor smelled like pot.

Related: Five minutes with snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler

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