34 | January 25, 2018 | The glenview lantern sports glenviewlantern.com Road to the Olympics: Part 2 Hansen ready for return to Olympics Michal Dwojak, Sports Editor Brian Hansen is used to taking long trips, but his upcoming trip to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea is one he wasn’t sure would happen. The Olympic speed skater left Sochi, Russia, after the 2014 Winter Games with more questions than answers. He knew what he wanted to do, but Hansen didn’t know whether the sport he had competed in for almost two decades would be part of his future. Now, four years later, he’s ready to travel to his third Olympic Games for the sport he thought was gone. “I felt like I had a new perspective and I wanted to come back to the sport to see it from a different perspective than I had in the past,” Hansen said. “In the past, I wanted to really enjoy the process and see and try to be really grateful for every day of training, and make it as exciting as it can be. That’s what I set out to do with my comeback.” The road back started two years after he skated off the rink in Sochi. Hansen finish his degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and started to prepare for a life away from speed skating. But there was still time to prepare with two years left when he finished school. Most of Team USA felt the odds at the Sochi Olympics weren’t good and it proved to be true. Hansen competed strong and some considered him the strongest U.S. speed skater at those Games, but he couldn’t replicate the silver-medal performance he had at the 2010 Vancouver Games. His return wouldn’t be easy. Most skaters today don’t take time away from the sport because of how difficult it is to return. But if there was anyone who could set an example of how to do it, it was his longtime coach Nancy Swider-Peltz. “People don’t do that much anymore,” Swider- Peltz said. “In this day of age, people don’t take the time off. If they do, there’s not a good chance of making it.” Swider-Peltz had attempted a few comebacks herself during her Olympic career. The four-time Olympian knew the struggles of leaving and coming back, but that didn’t stop her from being the first U.S. athlete to compete in four different Winter Games. So maybe he had the exception to the rule. But Hansen had what Swider-Peltz considered to be the essentials of making such a return. He had the fundamentals they had worked on from when they first started working together at open skates in Wheaton almost 17 years ago. While the disco ball filled the room, Swider- Peltz helped Hansen work on his rhythm while skating with those who wouldn’t share the same fate on the ice. The tools were there for Glenview’s Road to the Olympics This is the second part of a three-part series leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Hansen, he just needed the confidence. “I don’t think it was a difficult decision to make or thing to do,” Swider- Peltz said. The comeback reached it final stages in Milwaukee, a city to which Hansen and Swider-Peltz had taken countless trips together. The two made the trip with one of Hansen’s parents and Swider- Peltz’s children multiple times a week during his skating career. The routine had a rigid schedule: Either John or Julie Hansen would pick up Hansen at 2:30 p.m. at Glenbrook South with dinner and snack prepared. They would meet up with the coach and make their way to Wisconsin. Hansen quizzed his mother on songs, mostly Red Hot Chili Pepper songs, or they would watch “Cool Runnings” for what seemed like the millionth time. Memories that still live on. But the U.S. Olympic Trials in Milwaukee from Jan. 2-7 was a different trip and turned out to be as fulfilling. Hansen qualified for the first-ever mass start in the Olympic Games while also qualifying in the 1,500-meter race. Yes, it’ll be his third Games, but that doesn’t Brian Hansen (middle) poses with his parents John and Julie Hansen after the U.S. Olympic Trails in Milwaukee on Jan. 7. Photo Submitted take away from its importance. “It really is special,” Julie Hansen said. “I enjoy watching him skate. You still get very nervous because the trials are the trials. I’m such a proud mother for how he competes.” Now, he enters the final stages of preparation. Swider-Peltz knows exactly what these weeks are like: plenty of accolades and the media spotlight. But that doesn’t mean Hansen will change his preparation. His practice sessions with Swider- Peltz will remain the same; it’s just mental at this point. Neither of the two will talk much about the Games, there’s no point of adding pressure. There just remains that uncertainty he left Sochi with. Hansen doesn’t know what his next move will be after he leaves Pyeongchang. With his finished degrees, he wants to find a job, preferably in the Milwaukee area. One thing he does know is he wants to give back to the sport he loves by coaching. There’s uncertainty as to where that might be, but he just wants to give back. He joked about maybe making the reverse trip from Milwaukee to Northbrook like he used to in high school. For now, he’ll have an appreciation of a sport he fell in love with at a young age. “You never know, you just never know,” Hansen said. “That’s what’s so difficult about competing in an Olympic sport: It’s every four years and you have to realize you can’t put all the pressure on doing well at the Olympics. This opportunity only comes so often. I try to go in with an opportunity where it’s not all about winning at the Olympics. I can’t put that pressure on myself.” He can only take his next certain trip, and that’s to South Korea in less than a month.
glenviewlantern.com sports the glenview lantern | January 25, 2018 | 35 Athlete of the Year 2017 Lantern readers to vote for Athlete of Year David Kraus/22nd century media 1st-and-3 STARS of the week 1. Jimmy McMahon (ABOVE) The Titans shooter contributed 11 points in his team’s effort to come back and defeat Evanston that came short. 2. Koby Wilcox Glenbrook’s defenseman continued her hot season and scored two goals to help her team take care of the Scouts. 3. Bobby Walker The former Loyola Academy football player earned a scholarship on Christmas to play for the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. Online contest begins Friday, Jan. 26 Michael Wojtychiw Contributing Sports Editor Despite the fact the calendar year has now turned to 2018, 2017 still has a little bit missing from it. On fields of play all over the North Shore last year, student-athletes soared to new heights, and in many cases, took their team along for the ride. 22nd Century Media was following the action with its seven North Shore publications and websites, documenting the moments of glory as well as the agony of defeat. Along the way, every week, papers like our Glenview Lantern selected and interviewed a worthy Athlete of the Week. At the end of the month, all Athletes of the Week from the seven newspapers were pitted against one another in the popular Athlete of the Month competition, for which residents decide the result by voting for their favorite athlete online. At year’s end, there are 12 winners, and we’re not done just yet. Those 12 winners — along with six at-large contenders selected by 22CM staffers — are about to vie for the ultimate title: 22nd The Athlete of the Year 2017 Nominees are: • January winner: Sydney Ignoffo, Highland Park girls basketball • February winner: Kirby Bartlestein, Highland Park girls basketball • March winner: Henry Yavitt, New Trier boys water polo • April winner: Cameron Duffy, Glenbrook South boys lacrosse • May winner: Jack Sullivan, Glenbrook South boys volleyball • June winner: Melissa Tucker, Glenbrook North girls soccer • July winner: Grace Kapsimalis, New Trier girls volleyball • August winner: Marcus Shaw, Highland Park football • September winner: Daniel Spencer, Glenbrook North boys soccer • October winner: Alex Kahn, Glenbrook North boys soccer • November winner: Sam Carsello, Glenbrook North girls basketball • December winner: TBA online • At-large: Savontae Garner, Glenbrook South football • At-large: Charlie Scheinfeld, New Trier boys swimming and diving • At-large: Brennan Dwyer, Loyola Academy girls lacrosse • At-large: Skyler Metzger, Glenbrook North football • At-Large: Ziv Tal, Highland Park boys basketball • At-Large: Cat Nicholson, Lake Forest field hockey 22nd Century Media Athlete of the Year When: Friday, Jan. 26, through Thursday, Feb. 8 (two weeks) Where: WilmetteBeacon.com, WinnetkaCurrent. com, GlenviewLantern.com, NorthbrookTower. com, LakeForestLeader.com, HPLandmark.com and GlencoeAnchor.com Who: Eighteen North Shore student-athletes (12 Athletes of Month, 6 at-large contenders) Century Media Athlete of the Year. The Athlete of the Year competition is a two-week online voting contest that began at noon Friday, Jan. 26, at GlenviewLantern. com, as well as the company’s six other North Shore websites. Jack Sullivan Fans can vote daily for their favorite student-athlete until 5 p.m. on Feb. 8. To avoid voting spam and abuse, we have restricted the votes to one per IP address per day with a special feature to ensure votes are being made by humans. If votes are proven illegiti- Cameron Duffy mate, they will be discarded and the beneficiary of the fraudulent votes may be disqualified. A winner will be announced in the Thursday, Feb. 15 issue of The Lantern. Listen Up “You never know, you just never know.” Brian Hansen — The Glenview Olympic speed skater on whether this upcoming Olympics will be his last and what’s next. tunE in What to watch this week The GBS boys basketball team will host tough conference foe Niles North on Jan. 26. 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at GBS Index 33 - Boys Basketball 32 - Alumni Spotlight Fastbreak is compiled by Sports Editor Michal Dwojak. Send any questions or comments to email@example.com