Journey to Beijing: US speed skaters hope to qualify for 2022 Winter Olympics

China 2022

BEIJING (NEXSTAR) — The race to the 2022 Winter Olympics is on.

U.S. speed skaters are hoping they’ll be fast enough to qualify for the 2022 games.

In this week’s Journey to Beijing, there are two Olympic hopefuls pursuing big dreams, both now on similar tracks.

Ben Thornock and Casey Dawson are no strangers to the spotlight. Both are on the fast track to Beijing.

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

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

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

“It’s just you and the ice,” Dawson said. He’s on the long-track team.

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

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. And that just kind of felt like that part of that chapter was closed,” Thornock said.

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. I think that’s why a lot of skaters are hooked on that feeling,” Thornock said.

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