The Northbrook Speedskating Club has had alumni competing in every Winter Olympic Games since 1952, according to club officials.
This year is no different.
Short track speedskater Lana Gehring of Glenview and long-track skaters Brian Hansen of Glenview and Mitch Whitmore of Waukesha, Wisconsin – all who skated at Northbrook – are on their way to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Gehring, Hansen and Whitmore are all former Olympians as well.
“We tell the kids that if you work as hard as they do, you can one day accomplish what they have,” said Tom Anderson, head coach at the Northbrook Speedskating Club.
Kids, ages 7 to 16, speed skate at Northbrook each week – many who have their own Olympic dreams.
“I like skating because it’s an easy thing to get good at if you work hard,” said Eric Lapporte, 15, who has been skating at Northbrook for seven years. “Northbrook is the speedskating capital. Every Olympics we have people.”
When asked which games he’s preparing for, Lapporte responded: “2026 Olympics.”
Club officials said their Olympians, including silver medalist Hansen, have come back to visit with the young skaters.
“They eat that up,” said Charles Burke, a longtime Northbrook coach, who competed in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics. “How often can you skate with a medal winner?”
Burke and Anderson said they hope the success of Northbrook’s athletes will help to grow the sport of speedskating and inspire the next group of Olympic athletes.
“This sport builds more character than any I’ve ever seen,” said Anderson. “The champion will not always go home first. It’s a big mind over matter.”