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Local speed skater headed to Winter Olympics

Feb 01, 2018 07:11AM ● Published by Greg James

West Jordan's Jerica Tandiman finished fourth and fifth in the ladies 500 and 1000 meters U.S. Olympic trials, qualifying her for the 2018 Winter Olympics. (John Kleba/US Speed Skating)

The 2002 Winter Olympics had scarcely ended when then 7-year-old Jerica Tandiman fell in love with speed skating. She is now headed to participate in one of the world’s pinnacle winter sports events.

“It feels pretty awesome to be an Olympian,” Tandiman said. “I am still trying to process it all. I am really excited, and it is something I have been working towards for years. It feels good to finally reach that goal.”

Tandiman started skating shortly after the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics finished and left behind the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns—within walking distance of her home. She was fascinated with the speed and her parents enrolled her in a learn-to-skate program.

“It inspired me,” she said. “I remember going to the oval and watching the speed skaters train. They went so fast. I was more interested in that than I was in figure skating or hockey. My parents knew I was competitive and like to race, so they let me try it.” 

She now races in speed skating’s sprint races—the 500 and 1000 meters.

In the 2017 World Cup event at her home track in Kearns, she placed fourth and 12th in her 500-meter events. She placed 11th in the 1000 meter. 

“In a sprint, you have such a short amount of time,” Tandiman said. “Your technique needs to be spot on, and you need to be mentally prepared to make adjustments. If something goes wrong in the race, you do not have a lot of time to fix it. A typical 500 takes about 38 seconds, so if I make a little mistake that can make the difference between a podium or last place.” 

The national team is based in Salt Lake and she trains here year-round. As a junior skater, she made five junior world teams. Her competition schedule has taken her around the world including Russia, Norway, Italy and Japan. 

“I would not have ever been able to go to all of these places if not for my speed skating,” she said. “It has been really cool to travel and learn a little bit about the places I have been. I try to learn a couple of phrases in the language and sightsee a little bit.”

She spends about six hours a day training on land and the ice. Rotating between racing, cardio and weight training. Along with prep work on equipment and other family chores, she has little time to herself. When she does find free time, she enjoys doodling, painting and graphic arts.

“Going into this Olympics, I don’t know if I expect to medal necessarily,” Tandiman said. “I hope to race some of my fastest times. There are other members of the team that have been to the games before. They have really helped encourage me. I am going to get valuable experience and try my best. I do not want a lot of pressure. I want to enjoy the experience and race the best I can.” 

She has a part-time job with Dick’s Sporting Goods, and they also help sponsor her travel and training expenses. She graduated from Kearns High School in 2013 and attended BYU-Hawaii. 

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be Feb. 9–25 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Her events will be held Feb. 14 (1000 meter) and Feb. 18 (500 meter).

She has three sisters: Justine, Julie and Jamie. Her parents are Edwin and Christine. They now live in West Jordan.

“I am looking forward to representing Utah.,” Tandiman said. “I have had so much support from people in my neighborhood and friends that have known me growing up. I think it is going to be a great experience. It will be fun and exciting.” 

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