Kearns • Reclined in a hospital room bed 48 hours prior to making her third Olympic long-track speedskating squad, Maria Lamb wondered how she’d find her way back to the ice. A violent storm of migraine headaches overcame the 27-year-old Park City resident in the middle of the U.S. long-track Olympic qualifiers.
Lamb couldn’t keep any chow down. She became severely dehydrated and decided she needed to take a trip to the emergency room, where she eventually spent five hours being treated.
“Have to say when you’re laying there and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m on oxygen, I have an IV in my arm, I’m pumped full of painkillers … and I have to make the Olympic team in two days?’ It’s a little bit scary,” Lamb explained. “I just tried to focus on what I could do to get better.”
She got better. Lamb skated in Tuesday’s women’s 1,500-meter event and went again in her forte, the 5,000 meters, Wednesday afternoon running on just two hours of sleep.
Forty-eight hours following her five-hour stay in the emergency room, Lamb punched her ticket to Sochi, earning the final spot on the women’s long-track speedskating team heading to Russia for the 2014 Games in early February. She won the 5K, her best event.
“I know making the Olympic team is always hard — I’ve been around long enough to know that, but this is my best race,” Lamb said.
After competing in the women’s 1,500 meters in Torino in 2006 and in the 5,000 in Vancouver, Lamb has another shot to put down her best skate on the world’s biggest stage. Two weeks ago, she knew she controlled her destiny racing in the second-to-last heat with the spot hanging in the balance, but didn’t expect it to be nearly the dramatic week it turned out to be.
“Life conspired against me for a while there and worried me a little bit, and I just tried to focus on what I could control and what I could do and go and skate the best I possibly could and know I might have to pull more out of myself than I knew I had, but that’s what the 5K is about — it’s about heart and guts more than any other race,” Lamb said.
Seventeen-year-old Emery Lehman again showed his heart and guts. The Oak Park, Ill., native and high school senior won the 10,000-meter men’s qualifier Wednesday, four days after finishing second in the 5,000-meter race.
The youngster will be competing for medals in both races in Sochi.
And despite returning back to everyday high school life and classes such as graphic design and principles of engineering in five days, Lehman’s 10,000-meter effort was dramatic. He pushed hard the final two laps to finish the arduous race in 13 minutes and 22 seconds, seven seconds faster than his previous personal best.
“Never quite died, I guess,” Lehman said, smiling. “It turned out OK.”
Olympic trials schedule
O Utah Olympic Oval
Thursday • Men’s and women’s time trials — 1:30 p.m.