Jess Neufeld, International Speed Skater
Native Winnipegger Jess Neufeld just won his first International medal last week in Milwaukee, at the ISU Four Continents Speed Skating Championships. He told us before leaving that being part of the national team was a dream come true.
"It means the world to me to step on the line with the flag on my back," he said. "I'm happy to be back on the international scene this year. I'm most excited to be at a new oval and show the world what I'm capable of."
And show the world he did. Neufeld's time of 1:45.990 netted him second place in the men's 1500m. We asked the medalist a few questions about speed skating, his motivation and inspirations.
MSSA: What (or who) is your biggest motivator?
JN: I seek motivation in my daily training through my teammates, constantly pushing each other to be the best we can. I also am motivated by the immense support of my family who believe in me and have supported me all these years.
MSSA: What would you tell a beginner speed skater?
JN: I would tell a beginner speedskater to just have fun learning, enjoy the people and community because having fun is how you grow in the sport.
MSSA: What do you want people to know about speed skating?
JN: All speed skaters sharpen their own skates by hand, and at a higher level, everyone has custom fit boots that only fit their feet.
MSSA: Where is your favourite place to compete?
JN: My favourite place I’ve competed would be in the Bavarian Alps of Inzell, Germany.
MSSA: If you weren't pursuing speed skating, what sport would you choose?
JN: If I wasn’t speedskating, I would’ve likely continued to pursue road cycling as I did as a junior.
MSSA: How do you calm "butterflies" or nervous energy before a performance?
JN: Part of dealing with nerves is recognizing that it’s there and channeling that into focusing on my process for the race instead of the outcome.
MSSA: What one word describes you as a speed skater?
MSSA: Do you have a mantra?
JN: Not really, but I play with different vocal cues depending on the technical aspect I’m focusing on for a race.
MSSA: Who are your sports heroes?
JN: One of my skating heroes is Mika Poutala from Finland. He was a skater who always enjoyed every aspect of high performance sport on and off the ice and was a great ambassador and role model on the world stage.
Congratulations once again to Jess and his win at the ISU Four Continents Championships.