Q&A with Mitch Whitmore
How influential were your parents in your athletic career and in what ways?
Very. My parents let me try every sport and made staying active an important part of my life. They always pushed me to give full effort in whatever I was doing. They took me to practice 3-5 times per week and sometimes more. Without their support I would not have been able to participate in speed skating.
Do you have another full-time job or business? How do you balance work and training?
I’m a certified level 2 coach in speed skating and conduct private lessons in my off-time to help support myself. I also assist the local club team from time to time for free.
Do you have any pets?
2 cats. Leo and CJ. They're just really fun!
In your hometown of Waukesha, WI., what are your favorite spots to relax, eat out, etc.?
Spring Garden for Chinese food. Blue's Egg for breakfast. Jimmy's Grotto for lunch or dinner. Majestic Movie theater. Skate at the Pettit Center!
What time do you wake up? How much, and when, do you sleep each day during training?
I wake up between 7 and 8. I try for 10 hours.
How much time do you spend training each day?
It varies. Summer time- 6-8 hours
What’s your typical training day/schedule?
Warm-up 8-9 am, ice from 9-11. Another workout at 2pm
How do you work to achieve your daily goals?
Focus. I believe whoever is able to focus the hardest on the task at hand will be the best.
What is your favorite workout or fitness trend?
My favorite workout is bandy! It's our version of hockey with shorter sticks to keep us in a low position.
What’s the most grueling work out you’ve ever done?
There are too many to name… As a teen, for one workout we did 10x100 meter running accel into 100 'cross-backs' which is a difficult dryland exercise and then a 90 minute circuit of sandbag low walks/ sand bag jumps, stairs, and more sand bag exercises. It was awful.
If you are to indulge, what's your go-to snack?
Chinese food or Popeye’s.
What is your earliest memory of doing or seeing skating?
I can picture myself stepping on the ice in speed skates for the first time. I loved it right away because I just wanted to go faster and faster in anything I was doing. A couple years after I started, I remember watching the 2002 Games and being inspired by Apolo Ohno.
What's your earliest or favorite memory of watching the Olympics?
My favorite Olympic moment was [swimmer] Jason Lezak in Beijing coming from behind in the relay to beat the current gold medalist in the 100m freestyle for Michael Phelps to continue his run towards 8 golds.
Was there a specific “breakthough” moment/competition when you finally realized you could compete in your sport at a high enough level to reach the Olympics?
I was the youngest competitor at the 2006 Olympic Trials and I skated very well in the long races. I knew at that point that I had a real chance to make it somewhere in the sport.
What's something cool, weird intense about your sport that people don't normally see? What’s the hardest part of your sport?
The training, especially the lactate work. It's the worst pain you can experience as an athlete.
Who is your coach? How long have you been working together and what’s your relationship like?
Matt Kooreman. 4 years now and he's pretty cool. He's more quiet than the coaches I was used to but we've adjusted and I’m better than ever under him.
Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist? If so, how did it help you?
Yes. We have a psych that works with the team and he's helped me improve my mental imagery and focus.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Think about only two or three things at a time during practice. Focus on those things until they're perfect.
Who is your Olympic role model?
Within your sport, who has been your greatest influence and why?
Steve Geisler taught me how to train hard and have a good time when I was starting out.
Who is your biggest rival? Is it friendly or contentious?
Did anyone ever tell you that you wouldn’t be able to succeed in your sport? How were you able to overcome that?
My piano teacher when I was 13 said I was a jack of all trades, that I'd be good at a lot of things but not the best at anything. I remember that from time to time in training.
What is your favorite perk of being an elite Olympic athlete?
Not having a real job!
Are you superstitious? What do you do/don’t do around competitions?
Basically everything I do when putting my skates on is choreographed.
Do you have any tattoos?
Olympic rings with the American flag through it on my back.
Have you been to South Korea before? What are you most looking forward to about the Games being hosted in South Korea? Anything you want to see or do?
Yes. Skating at the rink again. It’s a nice facility and I like the ice.
Do you like kimchi or any other Korean foods?
Not kimchi but I love bulgogi.
Have you ever done karaoke? What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Sure have, I'm terrible. "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely” by the Backstreet Boys.
What will success look like for you in PyeongChang? What are your goals?
Gold in the 500 meter race.
Will you head home for the holidays prior to the Games?
Luckily Olympic Trials are in Milwaukee where my parents live so I’ll be home for the holidays.