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Hansen back on track as speedskating Olympian

February 8, 2010 |  1:36 pm

Speedskaters
VANCOUVER -- It is hard to imagine an athlete could find anything good about herniating a disc in his back.

Especially when it happened less than three months before a competition critical to speedskater Brian Hansen’s 2010 Olympic hopes.

But Hansen used the injury as inspiration to help him make the U.S. Olympic long track team in both the 1,500 meters and team pursuit.

"There was a period of time when me and Nancy were thinking, 'Omigosh, how are we gonna get out of this?’ ’’ Hansen said Sunday, referring to his coach, four-time Olympian Nancy Swider-Peltz. "For a month and a half, we were pretty devastated.’’

Hansen, 19, of Glenview, Ill., hurt himself lifting weights in July, a month after his high school graduation. So Swider-Peltz had to discard the training program she had devised to get him to October’s long track World Cup team trials because Hansen could not bend into a speedskating crouch.

"I knew it would be the most pressured meet I’ve ever been in,’’ Hansen said.

All his lifting had to be done in an upright position. On beautiful summer days, when Hansen might have been road cycling, he was trapped in the house or gym on a stationary bike. He got acupuncture and massage. He skated with a straight back.

"We improvised,’’ Hansen said. "I did workouts I never had done before. I got motivated by thinking I would have to find a different way to work through this.’’

Hansen, who moved to Milwaukee in August, made the World Cup team and the Olympic team pursuit pool in October. Two months later, he made the Olympic team in the 1,500 and was named one of the four men for team pursuit, in which three compete.

Although the injury bothered Hansen throughout the fall World Cup season, he managed to set a world junior 1,500 record.

His Olympic medal hopes are in team pursuit. In the 1,500, Hansen is No. 4 on a U.S. team that includes world-record holder Shani Davis, 2006 Olympic silver medalist in the event; Chad Hedrick, 2006 Olympic bronze medalist; and Trevor Marsicano, 2009 world silver medalist.

"I think in the 2014 Olympics, I will probably have more [medal] potential as far as individual events go,’’ Hansen said.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: From left, Jonathan Kuck, Trevor Marsicano and Brian Hansen in a World Cup team pursuit event at Salt Lake City in November. Credit: Colin Braley / Associated Press

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