Salt Lake City U.S. speed skaters race to Beijing Winter Olympic Games

China 2022

PARK CITY, Utah (NEXSTAR) — The race to the winter Olympics is on and two U.S. speed skaters are hoping they’ll be fast enough to qualify for the Games in Beijing in the coming weeks.

Ben Thornock and Casey Dawson are both training at Salt Lake City’s Olympic Park and have big dreams. They’re both no strangers to the spotlight. They’re two Olympic hopefuls on the fast track to China.

“When the gun goes off, it’s go time,” Thornock said.

Thornock is a short track U.S. speed skater.

“A lot of people say it’s like NASCAR on ice,” Thornock said.

Dawson is on the long-track team. 

“It’s just you and the ice,” Dawson said. “It’s just like mentally telling myself, just be the best you can at the moment.”

On the heels of their Olympic dreams, their paths have been different. 

“I always wanted to come back to skating, and see what I can do,” Thornock said.

Back in 2016, Thornock traded in his skates, for service, deciding to be a missionary in Japan. 

“We had meddled in the relay that year at junior worlds in Austria,” Thornock said. “And that just kind of felt like that part of that chapter was closed.”

Being surrounded by Olympic greats is what motivated Dawson to do something he never thought he would.

“I met Olympic Catherine Raney-Norman, that’s who I started through in Park City and that just kept me going, because I saw what she accomplished in this sport,” Dawson said.

Out on the ice, may be where both feel most alive. And it’s the chilling rush for what they do, that ultimately will keep them going.

“Go fast and turn left, and try to just hold on for the ride,” Thornock said.

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