Lutheran South grad reflects on 2022 Olympics

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Photo by Ian Quinn

Speed skater Ian Quinn at the Beijing 2022 Olympics.

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

Of the 224 USA athletes at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, St. Louis native and Lutheran South graduate Ian Quinn was one of the last two to secure his spot on the team. 

The 28-year-old secured his spot by winning the mass start speed skating event at the Olympic Trials in Milwaukee on Jan. 10. Quinn said the moment he realized he was going to the Olympics was “unreal” and despite that moment happening just a few months ago, it feels like a lot longer due to the quick turnaround to the Olympics.

“Once you’re coming down the homestretch and you realize ‘Holy crap, I’m about to win this,’ … That was a pretty surreal moment,” Quinn said. “For the next hour it was like ‘Oh, how’s it feel to make the Olympic team?’ I had no feelings at that point, you’re in shock that you did it.”

In his Olympic race Quinn finished 13th in the semifinal. He said he was disappointed to not make it out of his heat, but he felt he raced well and was still honored to represent his country and St. Louis among some of the best athletes in the world.

Quinn got his start in speed skating at 8-years-old when his godfather invited him to try out the sport. Even Olympic-level athletes can’t jump on the ice and skate like Wayne Gretzky — Quinn said at first he couldn’t skate without holding the wall, and it took him a long time to get used to racing-style skates and their thin blades. 

As he got better at the sport, Quinn began racing for two club teams in St. Louis to get more ice time. He realized he was at a high level of the sport after winning his age group national race for short track in 2006 and setting a new record for that age group.

“Me and my dad kinda looked at each other and were like ‘I guess we’re in the middle of this thing now,’” Quinn said. 

Quinn said before his freshman year of high school he was invited to go to the United States Olympic Education Center in Marquette, Michigan for his “first dose of high level skating.” Even at that point Quinn hadn’t considered shooting for the Olympics, instead wanting to focus on Junior World Championships. 

Seven years ago Quinn shifted from short track events to long track events like the mass start, and after making his first long track World Cup Team in 2016 he thought “Now I’m at the level where the Olympics are really a reality.”

Quinn said competing in his first Olympics and living in the Olympic Village was an “amazing experience.” Some of his highlights included pin trading, interacting with other athletes and the venue he raced in.

“That was probably one of the best venues I’ve been in in my entire life. It was a massive stadium and it would’ve been really cool if we could have had full spectators because it was probably one of the biggest stadiums we’ve had in recent time,” Quinn said.

He said he isn’t sure if he is going to try to make the Olympics again due to the commitment level involved for athletes. Quinn is attending the University of Utah for his accounting degree, but with his training he can only take about two classes at a time, and for the past three years he has had to have a long distance relationship with his girlfriend and former Olympian Carlijn Schoutens. 

“It’s a lot of sacrifice, it’s obviously worth it and I enjoy it a lot, but you definitely miss out on a lot of life events for sure,” Quinn said.

Quinn moved to Utah to train and his days usually consist of six to eight hours of skating, lifting, bike riding and other useful exercises. He said he doesn’t track his caloric needs often, but on an active day he can burn around 6,000 calories. 

Quinn said he has been fortunate to have a family who was able to help him financially while he pursued his Olympic dream and there are countless people who deserve credit for helping him get to Beijing.

“It really does take a village for Olympic sports, especially coming from St. Louis where Olympic sports aren’t that big,” Quinn said. “To get to where I was at, it took a lot of people who really cared and put in a lot of time and effort and really focused on my skating.”

The Olympian’s advice for anyone trying to reach the highest level of their sport is to stay the course and learn from any ups and downs along the way.