Local speedskater among best in nation
Copper Hills sophomore Andrew Clauser placed fourth in the Under 18 Division at the National Age Group Short Track Speed Skating Championships held March 15-17 in Omaha, Neb. During the three day competition, Clauser placed second in the 500 meters and third in the 1500 meters before hyperextending his left knee. He attempted to skate in the 1000 meters on the final day but had to pull out of the race, leading to a fourth- place showing.
“It’s kind of disappointing,” said Clauser, the son of Andrew and Julie Clauser of West Jordan. “I know I could have done better.”
The 17-year-old’s interest in short track speed skating began while watching gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake. He initially tried out the sport with hockey skates in Massachusetts and then was part of the Indy Speed Skating Club in Indiana until 2009. As a 13-year-old, he went to live with his grandparents in California to join the Demona Speed Skating Club until he was invited to train with the Fast Team at the Olympic Oval in Kearns over eight months ago. This move allowed Clauser to reunite with his family who were now living in Utah.
“I feel really good about my skating and I have progressed a lot over the season,” Clauser said. “Being with my family again has made all the difference this year for me.”
Clauser has been competing on the national level for over five years and has two top-ten finishes at the U.S. Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, including an eighth place finish in Woodbridge, Va. at the end of January.
“Skating, for me, is a huge adrenaline rush,” he said. “It feels like a roller coaster.”
Andrew’s mom, Julie, said it is “nerve-wracking” to watch her son in a danger sport, knowing that anything can happen. “But, he enjoys skating and he’s very dedicated to it, “she said. “And, it’s very exciting to watch.”
Clauser wakes up at five a.m. each morning to put in two and a half hours on the ice before school and then skates for another two hours each evening. He is currently looking for sponsors to help him continue towards competing at the highest levels of the sport.
“Skating has taught me a lot about setting goals and having the discipline to work towards those goals,” he said.
Clauser starts training again at the end of this month after recovering from his injury while also taking a previously scheduled break. He said he can’t wait to get back on the ice as he eyes a spot on the Junior World Team and his ultimate goal – the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.