Janesville48°

Tucker Fredricks gears for World Cup trials

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KENNETH M. VELOSKEY
October 23, 2008

Tucker Fredricks knows times are always changing.


Fredricks, a 2002 Janesville Craig High School graduate, is fresh off his 24th birthday last April and is in his fifth season with the U.S. men’s speedskating team.


A qualifier in the 500 meters at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy, Fredricks and his teammates will race in the Fall World Cup time trials Friday through Sunday at the Pettit Ice Skating Center in West Allis.


Fredricks will race in the 500 and 1,000 meters on Friday and the 500 and 1,500 races on Saturday.


Since Olympic medalists and training partners Joey Cheek and Casey FitzRandolph retired, Fredricks steps up to veteran status and thoughts about his own career coming to an end.


“It’s kind of a sad,” Fredricks said in a phone interview. “My career is almost over. I’ve got about eight years left.’’


Fredricks’ is really just entering his prime, and he has a lot blanks to fill.


The days, hours, minutes and seconds to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games are clicking off on the U.S. Speedskating official Web site.


After posting an American record of 34.31 seconds in the 500 last Nov. 17 in Calgary, Canada, Fredricks hit the wall


“This season, I have to make some improvements,” he said. “It’s almost a year and a half to the Games. I just have to get better this year.


“I have to refocus and train harder,” Fredricks added.


Fredricks is headed in the right direction, posting the top time of 35.76 seconds in a 500 practice time trial last Friday.


Last season’s early World Cup schedule was brutal and it took its toll on Fredricks.


“The racing schedule was so packed,” he said. “I was flying overseas to Asia and Europe.


“We had to get our fast times in early, and after December, I ran out of juice,’’ Fredricks said.


The schedule has been altered for this season. The U.S. team will skip at least one World Cup event in China and break to give the skaters a chance to recover and train.


U.S. coach Ryan Shimabukuro has confidence in Fredricks.


“The second half of last season overshadowed what he did in the first half,” Shimabukuro said.


Fredricks will be facing a stiff challenge in the sprints.


“Competition is the tightest it’s ever been,” said Shimabukuro. “You can’t afford to make any mistakes.


“Anyone who is in the top 15 can be on the podium on any given day,” Shimabukuro added.


Canada’s Jeremy Wotherspoon set the world record in the 500 at 34.03 last Nov. 9 at Salt Lake City.


“Jeremy is the target, but he has a history of chocking,” Shimabukuro said. “Tucker has beat him. The guy is not invincible.’’


Shimabukuro said Fredricks will have to stay up to speed.


“We have to see how much volume he can handle,” Shimabukuro said. “He’s done some solid training.


“He is not the type of skater he wants to be, but he is getting there,” Shimabukuro added.


Fredricks is working to keep his times changing for the better.



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