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Local Olympian reflects on Sochi experience

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 20, 2014 01:33 pm

Airdrie speed skater and Winter Olympian Brianne Tutt signed the back of Jaylin MacLean's shirt following the opening cermonies of the Alberta U12B Ringette provincial championships at Genesis Place on March 14.
Airdrie speed skater and Winter Olympian Brianne Tutt signed the back of Jaylin MacLean's shirt following the opening cermonies of the Alberta U12B Ringette provincial championships at Genesis Place on March 14.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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Signing ringette rings and hockey bags might not have been what Airdrie’s Brianne Tutt was expecting to have happen to her once she got back from the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

But according to the 21-year-old speed skater, it’s all just part of the process after you are a part of the world’s biggest sporting event.

“You have to give back to everyone and to every sport possible,” Tutt said after being the guest speaker for the Alberta U12B provincial ringette championship opening ceremony at Genesis Place on March 14.

“Since I came back from Sochi, I have been able to do events like this and it’s been a lot of fun for me to do these types of things,” she added.

Tutt, who qualified for the Olympics just more than a year after she suffered a broken collarbone, ribs, a cracked vertebra, a skull fracture, a loss of hearing in her left ear and Bell’s Palsy when a fellow skater collided with her in a practice session in Dec. 2012, said the experience of being in Sochi was better than she imagined.

“I really didn’t know what to expect before I went over, but it exceeded my expectations,” Tutt said.

“It was like being at a giant World Cup speed skating meet, except there was way more athletes there.”

Tutt’s lone event at the Winter Olympics was in 1,500-metre women’s speed skating on Feb. 16, where she finished in 35th place with a time of 2:03.69.

“Obviously, I would of liked to have done better there, but my main goal were to gain experience for the 2018 Olympics,” Tutt said.

“The ice in Sochi didn’t really suit my style of skating, which involved a lot of pushing and gliding, but I learned that I have to suck it up and adapt to the challenges.”

“I also learned a lot of tips and tricks just from watching the other speed skaters like Christine Nesbitt,” she added.

“There are a lot of things that you can learn at a meet that you can’t learn on your own, so I am hoping to use those as a building block for the future.”

In addition to her own competition, Tutt had the chance to attend other events at the Olympics and got to meet fellow athletes, including Pittsburgh Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby.

“I was like a kid in the candy store at times trying to hunt down people and get a photo with them,” Tutt said.

“It was really cool to see the other athletes and how they prepare for their events, especially with the figure skaters, as they have to deal with judges while we just have to race against the clock.”

“Going to see a lot of the sports was cool as well, but what really stood out was being in the building for the women’s gold medal hockey game,” she added.

“To be able to see the girls come back and win over the (United) States was really amazing.”

After taking a brief break, Tutt plans to get back into full training mode in the next couple of weeks, as she gets ready for the 2014/15 speed skating season.

“Everyone usually starts off their training in the middle of April, but I would like to get back earlier than that,” Tutt said. “I might be trying a few different forms of training this year, as I would like to try out some new things to keep myself going.”

“That might include working with some hockey players, but we will see how things work out,” she added.


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