The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named speed skaters Peter Michael, Reyon Kay and Shane Dobbin to the New Zealand team for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The trio will compete in the Team Pursuit as well as the individual disciplines listed below:
Peter Michael (28 years); Team Pursuit, Mass Start, 5,000m and 1,500m.
Reyon Kay (31 years); Team Pursuit, Mass Start and 1,500m.
Shane Dobbin (38 years); Team Pursuit and 10,000m.
It is the first time New Zealand has ever qualified a long track speed skating team for the team pursuit event.
The trio all transitioned from inline skating and are all former world champions in that sport.
Above: The team competing in The Netherlands in an ISU World Cup
The athletes are coached by Kalon Dobbin (Shane’s brother) and split their time between the USA, Canada and Europe as they travel to compete on the ISU Speed Skating World Cup circuit.
In the Team Pursuit they’ve amassed an impressive record and are demonstrating consistency with four World Cup podiums in the past 18 months, and a second placing at the 2017 World Championships at the Gangneung Oval (the venue for the Olympic competition in PyeongChang). The team have a current ranking of second in the 2017/2018 World Cup.
PyeongChang 2018 will be Shane’s third Olympic Winter Games. He retired following Sochi (where he was the New Zealand team flagbearer) but was convinced to return to the sport by the allure of competing in the Team Pursuit.
“When Reyon called and asked me to come back to the sport it wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, it took a good couple of months for him to bring me around,” said Shane.
But it turned out to be a decision the 38 year old wouldn’t regret.
“What we’ve achieved in the short amount of time that we’ve been skating together is great. We want a medal at PyeongChang and we’re heading in the right direction to achieve that goal. You’d struggle to find a group of guys who are more driven than us right now.”
Above: Shane Dobbin carrying the New Zealand flag in Sochi
Reyon Kay attributes the trio’s success to what he calls an unorthodox training style led by coach Kalon Dobbin.
“We do really long sessions on the ice but really slow. Most skaters do 20 laps max and they’ll do that a couple of times for their endurance but we’ll do 150 laps a lot slower,” he said.
“It looks funny in the skating world but we think that there’s some serious gains to be had from this approach.”
Above: Reyon Kay, Shane Dobbin and Peter Michael
Peter Michael says a strong team environment has helped with their performance.
“It’s always nice with this group of guys, we grew up together so we’re quite close. It’s like a family feeling out there and we just do our all for the team.”
Individually the athletes have also posted strong results.
Peter Michael won World Cup gold in the 5,000m and 1,500m in 2016 and World Championship bronze in the 5,000m in 2017.
Reyon Kay won World Cup silver in the Mass Start in 2017.
Above: Athlete Peter Michael
Ice speed skating New Zealand President Matthew Biggs says the trio have worked extremely hard to reach the top level of their sport.
“To get to where they are you’ve got to have an amazing fitness base and you’ve got to be extremely tough. They’ve tidied up their technique through a lot of work over the past few years and they’ve had some great finishes as a result of that,” he said.
“Their selection for the Olympic Winter Games is huge for the sport. It is a small sport within New Zealand so it’s great to see them do this.”
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the athletes on their selection.
“This is an amazing example of athletes displaying determination and grit to chase the Olympic dream," she said.
"Shane already has a proud Olympic history and we look forward to Peter and Reyon adding to the teams' legacy at PyeongChang.”
The trio is currently in Calgary where they are training ahead of PyeongChang 2018.
Speed skating will be contested between February 10th-24th as part of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.