Competing at an elite international level, Oswego native Sydney Terpening continues to progress toward her goal — making the 2022 U.S. Olympic speedskating team.
At the U.S. Junior Long Track Championships held in late December in Salt Lake City, Utah, Terpening finished within the top five among Junior A Ladies to earn a spot on the Junior World Team for the second year in a row.
That team will compete Feb. 15-16 at the ISU Junior World Cup Finals in Minsk, Belarus.
“Our first stop is in Belarus. I’m so excited. I’ve never been. I heard the rink is beautiful,” said Terpening, 19. “It’s in the capital city of Minsk. I’m really excited to explore and be in a different skating environment.”
The following week, the team will be skating in the Junior World Championships in Tomaszow, Poland.
Both of those competitions will be in indoor rinks. Last year, Terpening skated in those events at outdoor rinks in Italy.
“Every year they alternate the world championships from outdoors to indoors so they get the best of both tracks,” Terpening said. “Times are normally faster at indoor rinks just because you don’t have to battle the weather conditions, but I love both.”
The daughter of Traci and Ellery Terpening of Oswego, Sydney trained for many years at an outdoor rink in Lake Placid.
“I’m accustomed to skating outdoors,” she said, “but since I’ve been living in Milwaukee for three years now, I’m used to skating indoors more.”
Terpening made the move to Milwaukee to be able to have the best training possible in a city that hosts many big speedskating events. In addition to her skating, she is a part-time student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, working toward her associate’s degree with an emphasis on engineering. She noted she will be taking a summer course to stay on pace with her graduating class so she can graduate on time. She plans to transfer to a four-year university after getting her associate’s degree.
She does what she can to try to maintain a balance in her life so it’s not skating all the time.
“I’ve been working hard and putting in the time and staying focused on my goals and just really trying to have time for other things outside of skating as well,” she said. “Skating takes up a lot of my time. I like to balance it out with school and hanging out with friends to keep me kind of level.”
Still, her eyes remain on the ultimate prize, the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. The number of speedskaters the U.S. team gets to send to the Olympics varies based on available spots and how the U.S. team does at the World Cup, Terpening said. Her goal is to keep improving over the next two years.
“I’m really just trying to work hard and trying to improve my technique and my times,” she said. “This is an important season right now, and then the season coming up is going to be really important. It’s going to hopefully lay down some groundwork for the Olympic year coming up.”
Going to Italy for the Junior Worlds last year was “amazing,” she said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it before. It was so cool to see all the different athletes from around the world. Everybody has different skating technique.”
Her results in Italy were not what she had hoped.
“I had been struggling last season a lot with my boots and I was having a hard time adjusting to my boots. I didn’t skate as well as I would have liked to, but I had some really good experiences,” she said.
Fast-forward to this year and her confidence is high heading to the competitions in Belarus and Poland.
“When I was in Utah for the Junior Nationals, I had a personal record in my 500 meters, 3,000 meters, and 1,000 meters, and was just short of it in my 1,500 meters,” Terpening said.
Her combined efforts in those distances qualified her as one of five women on the long-track U.S. Junior World Team. Terpening said long-track speedskating is her focus, as opposed to short-track skating. Long-track speedskating takes place on a 400-meter oval, and skaters wear a skin suit with a hood to be more aerodynamic. Short-track speedskating is done on a hockey rink, and the skaters wear more protective gear, including a helmet.
After she skates in the Junior World Cup Finals in Belarus and in the Junior World Championships in Poland, Terpening will return for the third and final race of the AmCup Series in Salt Lake City. She hopes to build on a successful effort at AmCup 2 that was held in Roseville, Minnesota in early December.
“I had some really consistent races and I was happy with my times,” she said. “I was in the top four and five for Juniors, which is where I wanted to be.”
After AmCup 3, Terpening will fly to Amsterdam in the Netherlands in March to compete as a member of the University Team.
“You have to be in college at least part time and taking a certain number of credits to qualify (for the University Team),” she said. Her performance at AmCup 2 qualified her for the team.
Only two women on the Junior World team are fully funded for the overseas competitions, and Terpening is not one of them. She is also self-funded for per participation with the University Team. She said she has been working and will be helping her parents with some of the cost. The family also gratefully accepts any donations toward Sydney’s skating effort. Anyone interested may send a check to Traci and Ellery Terpening at 50 Brown Drive, Oswego, NY 13126.
A local fundraiser is held each year to further support her efforts.
“We really appreciate all the support I’ve been getting,” she said.
She got home to Oswego for a couple of days around Thanksgiving, but the demands of her sport keep her very busy during the competition season. Still, she said she loves living and training in Milwaukee.
“It’s a great city. My team is great and my coach is great. School is going well. I’m just going part time now so I can put a little bit more energy and focus into this last year of Juniors,” Terpening said.
Terpening is looking forward to the Junior World events and reminds everyone that they can live stream the competitions from Belarus and Poland on YouTube by searching ISU Skating.
“I’m really excited to keep working hard and see how fast I can go, travel some more, and have some new experiences,” she said.