The first time Walter Johnson High School senior Jared Wood stepped foot onto the ice at the Wheaton Ice Rink more than a decade ago, his eyes welled up and tears began to stream down his face.
“I started crying when I couldn't move on the ice. You don't feel comfortable on skates at first,” Wood said. “My mom was like, ‘Jared, you've got to keep moving your feet, you can't just stop right there and cry.'”
Wood gave it a try and, sure enough, it worked.
The 2011 U.S. National Intermediate Men's Short Track Speedskating champion has no problem moving on the ice these days.
Wood last month was named to the U.S. Developmental Team following his performance at the 2012 U.S. Speedskating American Cup Finals and Short Track Age Group National Championships held at the Cornerstone Arena In Green Bay, Wisc. The competition featured 240 athletes from all 50 states.
The Potomac Speedskating Club, of which Wood is a member, won the coveted age group team title that eluded it last winter. Silver medals won by Shaner LeBauer of Potomac and Benjamin Oh of Burtonsville played a major role in that result. Oh also was part of the third-place men's relay squad.
Potomac Speedskating is based out of the Wheaton and Cabin John ice rinks. “To be honest, I felt like our club was going to win,” LeBauer said. “We didn't it last year. But our club is just amazing. In my opinion we are the strongest club in the United States. Coach Hyung Jung Lee is amazing.”
Lee was a longtime member of the Korean National Team and competed at the 1988 Winter Olympics, where short track was just a demonstration sport.
Racing against the nation's top-level skaters, including U.S. Speedskating Short Track World Cup team member Jonathan Garcia, who won the competition, Wood finished ninth in the 16-person field.
His times earned him a Junior Category 1 ranking, just a step below the Olympic level, he said.
With his new status, Wood will now compete in a special USA skinsuit from U.S. Speedskating sponsor Under Armour.
“I was in the Am Cup final with all these great skaters, some of them are on the national team and I did very well,” Wood said. “I'm glad I succeeded my goal of making Category 1 this year. Now I want to go back to my training and hopefully I can make Senior Category 1 next year.”
Bethesda-Chevy Chase freshman Sophie Mittelstadt finished eighth out of 12 skaters in the women's American Cup final in Green Bay. She also was part of Potomac's silver medal women's relay team. Mittelstadt and LeBauer are both aiming to make next year's U.S. Junior World team.
According to the old adage, mother knows best. Wood is certainly glad he listened to his mom that first day on the ice.
“My mom is the one that kept me going in the sport,” he said. “She told me once I start moving, I'd feel better. And I did.”