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Student Spotlight: Eddie Kim – Cool Running

In just his first year, speed skating sophomore is ranked second in state

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Student Spotlight: Eddie Kim – Cool Running

Sydney Uyeda, Staff Writer

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Speed skating: a sport that’s looked over by most Americans is a passion for one Branham student.

Every four years, the Winter Olympics reintroduces American audiences to speed skating. It’s a struggling sport here (the U.S. has not earned a medal in the last two Olympics), but wildly  popular in South Korea and the Netherlands.
Sophomore Eddie Kim is aiming to help reverse this tide.

He has the medals to prove it from the Western Regional Championships in speed skating, where he placed second in the state.

He first got into it when he saw how much his brother enjoyed it.

“(We) would watch it on TV and he said ‘Oh I want to try this’ and so he did,” Kim said. “I wasn’t really interested… and after two months I said ‘why don’t I try this out?’ and I tried it.”

Him said that it didn’t come naturally to him.

“I didn’t like it at first, but my mom said ‘You’re going to like this sport, just keep doing it,’” he said. “So I continued and ended up enjoying it.”

With his mother’s support, Kim continued to speed skate and he said that he now loves it. He practices on the weekends in Oakland and sometimes in San Jose, while focusing on school during the week.

Eddie estimates that he’s been in “eight or nine competitions” in his first year of speed skating. He just competed in the Western Regional Championships, where he placed second in the state, first in his racing group and first in his division. He traveled with his dad earlier this month to compete in Valencia, just outside downtown Los Angeles.

While speed skating may be overlooked recently in the U.S., it is one of the most popular sports in South Korea, Kim’s ethnic homeland. In the 2018 Olympics, Lee Seung-hoon placed first in the 10,000 meter race, giving South Korea the gold medal.

Seeing the speed skaters compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang makes Kim push harder to be like the skaters he sees on tv: “I want to be like [them]…watching them makes me really want to be like them one day when I become better.”

“I’m trying to be like J.R. Celski for example…I just really want to be like him one day…”

Speed skating has been around since the 17th century, but it was not until 1924 that the sport made its Olympic debut. The Dutch would skate to and from villages in order to deliver messages to others. This eventually evolved into speed skating, where people skate around an icy track for a certain amount of meters, and the person who skates the fastest is the winner.

Short track speed skating, Kim’s primary competition, is when a group of individuals race around the ice, but instead of having to skate around the 400-meter track used in traditional speed skating, he only skates a track that is 111 meters. Long track has individual lanes for each skater, while short track has everyone in a group, so each skater has to fight to secure position.


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Student Spotlight: Eddie Kim – Cool Running