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Russian Roulette
Round and round, the speedskaters go. Where they stop, nobody knows.


Photo from Shutterstock

The village of Hales Corners unveiled the Aly Dudek International Ice Center in December, but the 23-year-old Olympian for which it’s named, Alyson Dudek, hasn’t had time to skate on it. The local heroine is lapping through a hectic training schedule with the United States short-track speedskating team in Salt Lake City, in preparation for this month’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Four years ago, she brought a bronze medal home to Hales Corners as part of the U.S. women’s 3,000-meter relay team. She keeps it in her sock drawer, allowing easy access for show-and-tell trips to schools.

Short-track is a notoriously capricious sport. Tight packs, high speeds and sharp turns can leave skaters gliding toward gold in one second and crashing into a wall in the next, often through no fault of their own. Dudek calls it “organized chaos,” and nobody is immune, not even one of the top three female short-trackers in the U.S. Which leads us to our one burning question for Dudek.

How do you handle such chaos affecting whether you win or lose?

We actually work with a sports psychologist who helps us deal with the pressures of winning or losing, and how to accept it, deal with it, but then get over it and move on and focus on the next race. It’s really difficult mentally in our sport, but you have to deal with it. Just like my skating, my mental performance can always be better.

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
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