Gold Medalist Guides Local Speed Skaters’ Olympic Dreams - NBC4 Washington
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Gold Medalist Guides Local Speed Skaters’ Olympic Dreams

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    Olympic fans may remember Dong-Sung Kim as the South Korean speed skater who appeared to defeat U.S. favorite Apolo Anton Ohno in the 2002 men's 1500-meter race. But in one of the most controversial decisions of those Games, Kim was disqualified for blocking, and Ohno took gold.

    Kim had already won gold in 1998.

    Fast forward -- preferably on skates -- to 2010, and Kim is now coaching in the Washington suburbs, leading 50 members of the Potomac Speed Skating Club.

    His students range in age from 8 years old to adulthood.

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    "Every four years, we see a big surge in interest in speed skating. The phone is ringing off the hook," said club officer Alison Mittlestadt, who has been speed skating for three years with her daughter. "We've had email inquiries from kids of all ages and a lot of adult skaters as well."

    But it's the intensity and danger that's drawn 14-year-old Hannel So.

    "Even as you're only a second away from falling to your doom, getting insanely hurt, even when you're doing that, it's the intensity of it that makes it so much fun," So said.

    The young speed skaters said training under a former Olympian can be grueling. They work out six days a week during the prime winter season. They are gearing up now for a national competition in Wisconsin in early March.