GLENVILLE, N.Y. – A local teenager is about to take the ice on a global stage.
While competing in the U.S. Speedskating Junior trials this past weekend, David Skoda qualified for the World Junior Championships in Poland.
The 16 year old started speedskating at the age of three. He started out as a hockey player but hated having to put on and take off all the hockey pads. But one day at the rink, his mom saw a flyer on the rice and thought Skoda should give it a try.
Today, Skoda is proving to be one of the country’s top junior speedskaters. But he didn’t start thinking about improving individually until he competed in Milwaukee.
“I went in trying to see the fastest times I could get,” he said. “I wasn’t actually thinking about making the team.”
The three-day event was to determine who would grab the five roster spots on the U.S. Speedskating Junior World team, including two sprinters, two all-around skaters, and one who finished with the best percentage closest to world record time.
After two days, the first four spots were clinched. Skoda did not own one of them.
“I didn’t really know where I was at,” he said.
But his coach, Paul Marchese, did. He went over the math the night before and knew, barring any catastrophes, Skoda was in line to earn the fifth spot.
“They just kinda tricked me into thinking I gotta keep pushing it and pushing it and pushing it to see if I can make the team when they kinda knew the night before,” Skoda said.
In the final day of racing, Skoda outperformed the competition, but even then, he didn’t realize he had done it.
“They kinda just left me waiting thinking about it, like ‘Did I get it? Did I not get it?’” he said.
When his coaches finally told him the good news hours later, Skoda said he was speechless. A feeling he still has.
“I don’t know how to really think about it,” he said. “I guess, like, I’m psyched, but it’s still something that’s processing.”
Now with the World Championships in his sights, his biggest fear is the plane ride to Europe.
“My biggest stress about it is flying over an ocean,” he said. “That’s probably my biggest stress.”
Skoda will train two days a week in Saratoga and every weekend in Lake Placid before leaving for Warsaw, Poland in February.