Richardson targets more gold
A day after becoming the first American woman in eight years to win the World Sprint Speedskating Championships, High Point native Heather Richardson took it easy on Monday.
“It’s been so nice,” Richardson said by telephone from her Utah home. “I’ve done nothing except sit on the couch and watch television.”
She did field some messages of congratulations through social media and took care of some press obligation.s Today, she will have a few more interviews. And, she will resume her training with a light workout because there are still races to run.
She’ll soon leave for Europe, where two big events remain. The first is the final race on the World Cup circuit March 1-3 in The Netherlands and the second is the World Single-Distance Championships set March 21-24 in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympics will be held next season.
The event in Sochi is the most important of the year for Richardson, who wants to get to the Olympics for the second time now ranks as one of the favorites to the gold at the Olympics in her best distance, the 1,000 meters. In the 2010 Olympics, she finished sixth at 500 meters and a disappointing ninth at 1,000 meters.
“Winning the Spring championship was pretty important,” she said. “But the single distance race is just like the Olympics and that is my goal. The Olympics are all I think about. These races are preparing me for the Olympic season next year.”
As far as winning Olympic gold, Richardson knows that she must do a better job dealing with pressure than she has in the past. She hopes that the way she dealt with it this past weekend is a harbinger for the future.
She admits the pressure got to her as she finished fourth in the 500 meters and the 1000 this past Saturday, leaving open the possibility that she could lose the Sprint championship. On Sunday, she relaxed in the locker room while listening to music on her iPod, and then clinched the title in style by winning at 1,000 meters.
“I handled the pressure better,” Richardson said. “I usually crack under pressure but on Sunday, I just decided to go out and have fun. I listened to my music and I picked out one thing in my technique to improve. And on Sunday that was to relax because on Saturday, I was so tense that I didn’t stay down in my skating position and wasn’t making enough contact with the ice.”
Among those who saw her championship effort were her mother, an aunt, former Olympic skating gold medalist Joey Cheek of Greensboro and his brother Michael, and Michael Cheek’s girlfriend, who was inline skating teammate of Richardson’s in High Point.
“It was very exciting to win the championship because it was here in Salt Lake City and I’ve been training and living here,” Richardson said. “And several people from North Carolina were here to see it. I’m just happy to have pulled it off. The first day wasn’t good but I pulled it all together the second.”
Now she goes back to work.