Fredricks frets about meet
WEST ALLIS Tucker Fredricks carries the weight of uncertainty into the US World Cup fall qualifier Thursday through Sunday at the Pettit National Ice Center.
Fredricks, a Janesville native and Craig High graduate, is entering his 10th season on the US Speedskating team with the task of rebounding from a nagging back injury that has challenged his leading role in the 500 meters.
"This year is a little different than most," said Fredricks, a two-time US Olympic team qualifier. "I'm not skating too well now; things are not clicking."
Fredricks is one of four skaters shooting for three spots on the US World Cup team in the 500.
"I want to make the team first and foremost," Fredricks said. "That's not been an issue in past years."
Fredricks is a World Cup champion and a national record-holder in the 500, but a hip injury suffered in a practice crash last season is casting doubt on this weekend.
"The season started as my best ever," Fredricks said. "At a World Cup (last) January in Salt Lake, I had a problem with my back."
Fredricks said the hip injury led to his back problem. He missed more than a month of World Cup competition.
"Toward the end of February it got better," Fredricks said. "But it still bothers me a little. I've got to watch and take care of it."
Fredricks said dealing the injury has caused him to consider his speedskating future.
"It's been tough," Fredricks said. "I thought about retiring. I never knew when it was going to hurt. It would be fine then painful and I couldn't skate."
The 500 is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday with the women racing first. Fredricks is hoping for the best.
""I'd love to break 35 (seconds)," Fredricks said. "But I had a practice run of 36.1, and that's really bad. I honestly don't know what to expect. I just hope I can focus on the races and the time will come down."
The 28-year-old Fredricks said qualifying for a third 500 berth in the 2014 Sochi, Russia Olympics it is going to take all his tenacity.
"Getting older, you realize how hard it actually really is," Fredricks said of qualifying for the Olympics. "2006, I was just having fun and I did not understand what it took to be really good.
"In 2010, I put in the work and it paid off except a couple of things went wrong," Fredricks added. "It's kind of scary, knowing there is a year and half (until the Olympics) and know things might not go your way."
This weekend, Fredricks plans to have things his way.
"I've got a couple days to figure it out," said Fredricks, who has been practicing at the Pettit with the US team for the last two weeks. "I've got a fairly good idea what to do. I have to focus on technique and race strategy."