With just days to go before the athletes chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia depart for their respective training camps, Examiner spoke exclusively with short track speedskating team member Kyle Carr on Jan. 19.
Carr, 27, faltered during the sport's Olympic trials, which took place Jan. 2-5 in Salt Lake City, but finished with enough points to join fellow skating stars J.R. Celski, Eddy Alvarez, Chris Creveling, Jordan Malone, Jessica Smith, Emily Scott and Alyson Dudek on the eight-member Sochi-bound squad. Although the final decision is up to the coaches, he is likely to compete in the men's relay, and is focused on parlaying the talent he's developed over the course of a long career into the role of a "relay specialist." It's a good aspiration for Carr, who used his positive, team-minded attitude to help the U.S. claim the bronze relay medal at the 2011 World Championships.
The semifinals of the men's 5,000 meter relay at the Sochi Games are set for Feb. 13, and the final will follow more than a week later on Feb. 21.
During the interview, the easygoing, down-to-earth Carr touched on a number of topics, including the moment he learned he'd be going to Sochi, his knack for overcoming adversity, his upcoming wedding, and the trio of pets he affectionately calls "the farm."
Talk about the moment when you realized you'd made the Olympic team.
Carr: My last event [at trials] was a 1,000 meter semifinal, and I fell with a teammate of mine and we both got penalized... so I was frustrated at that point because I knew that I was close to making the team. When I was still on the ice I went over to [my coach] and told him that I was just so fatigued and I had no excuse for what just happened, but he patted me on the back and said "it's okay, you made the team." At that point, all that frustration and anxiety turned into happiness and gratitude. I just kind of swallowed my heart. It was surreal. I went to the heat box, took my skates off, went downstairs and got changed... and went to the stands and saw friends and family and supporters that came out, and it was that point that it became emotional. It was amazing. One of the most amazing moments of my life, besides proposing to my fiancee [longtime girlfriend Siobhan O'Rourke].
So when's the wedding?
Carr: Sept. 19. It was previously scheduled for Sept. 5, but a friend of mine, J.R. Celski, I asked to be in the wedding, and his brother's wedding was the same day so we bumped it two weeks back to make it work.
J.R. is obviously the it-guy of American short track right now. What's it like to skate with him?
Carr: He's been one of my best friends for so long; obviously, since I asked him to be in my wedding.... I don't get on the ice and say "oh my gosh, it's J.R. Celski!" He's one of the guys when we're training. Our whole team is pretty awesome. We have a great group going to Sochi and the talent pool is amazing in the U.S. It'll be fun.
Who's coming along to watch you in Sochi?
Carr: My fiancee, my mom and my dad, and I think my little sister may go as well. They're excited to experience the Olympic movement firsthand. And obviously to watch me race.
I read the bio on your website so I know you started off as an inline skater. Why did you decide to transition from the pavement to the ice?
Carr: It was a new challenge, something new to take on. There was obviously the whole Olympic aspect of it too... there's no Olympic team for inline speedskating. It would be a cool sport to see in the Olympics, though.
I also read that you broke your ankle --badly-- several years ago. How's it feeling?
Carr: I've learned to cope with it being different. It's not the same in any way. It's probably double the size it's supposed to be... It was a while riding the learning curve and getting my feet back under me. But the best way for me to cope with any adversity is to find the silver lining and be optimistic... in the world of speed skating if you take life too seriously, you're gonna go nuts.
Are there any other Olympians --from any nation-- who you'd like to meet in Sochi?
Carr: It would be really cool to meet [two-time Olympic halfpipe gold medalist] Shaun White.... His level of athleticism is awesome.
What's your pre-competition routine? Any superstitions?
Carr: I think the superstition that often times comes back to haunt me because I get so mental about it is putting my left skate on first. If I'm in a rush or not thinking and put my right one on first, I'll take them both off and put the left one on first. As long as I'm not pressed for time getting to a race or anything its okay, but it's just the feeling. You want the feeling to be consistent every time you race.
If you hadn't decided to continue pursuing short track, what would you be doing right now?
Carr: I'd probably be doing something in the exercise science field, whether it was working at a gym or in an elite athlete training facility.
Who's your personal sports icon?
Carr: [NBA star] LeBron James. I like the way he presents himself and how he handles situations that occur with finesse. I'm a huge fan of athleticism, and I think what he does in the sport of basketball, for his size, is amazing.
What are the first two tracks on your iPod or music player?
Carr: "Collard Greens" by Kendrick Lamar and "Work (Trap Remix)" by ASAP Ferg. I like beats. I like some techno, some hip hop and rap. But it's mostly the beat that draws me into the music. Sometimes I listen to the lyrics too closely and think "why am I listening to this?" but whatever gets my heart racing, I like.
What's the one food you could eat every day and never get tired of?
Carr: Wood-fired margherita pizza.
[Short track icon] Apolo Ohno was on "Dancing with the Stars." Would you ever consider doing a reality TV show?
Carr: Yeah, I would consider it. I wouldn't want to go on "Real World" or "Road Rules." But I'd go on "Dancing with the Stars." Some kind of reality show with a competitive edge to it.
Finally, what's one thing about you that America doesn't know?
Carr: I currently have a dog, a cat and a rabbit that I refer to as my farm.... I'm a speedskater and I have a farm.