Q&A with national speed skating finalist Cece Long

Q&A with national speed skating finalist Cece Long

Jake Heilman, Sports Reporter

After an extensive look into the life of Cece Long, it is obvious that speed skating dominates most of her time. She has achieved a new precipice to be held accountable to. Sixth in the nation. After a huge success at the Midland Civic Ice Arena against some of the top talent in the Junior B 14-16 age group. Cece, and the West Michigan Speedskating Club, had a huge weekend.

Cece has had a couple of consecutive seasons described as “plateau” seasons. The six-year veteran began to feel as if she was peaking in terms of progress. However, that theory was debunked after a successful 2017 run at the National competition. She finished as the number six speed skater in the entire nation for her age group, an accomplishment that few have ever achieved. After working hard for six straight years, her hard work has finally paid off in an incredible fashion. She could not be more satisfied with the way she finished her campaign this year.

Q: Where did this road to 6th in the nation start?

Cece: “There is a series of meets starting in October and ending in March (the end of the season), and you have to get a certain time to be able to qualify for the national competition. If at any time throughout those couple months you achieve the cut time, you qualify for nationals.”

Q: How many people did you compete against?

A: “There are different age groups and probably seven or eight total in mine. There is a group full of Olympic trial participants. My group was just my age for qualifications in the junior B group.”

Q: When did you start speed skating?

A: “My dad found the club a while ago, and they were having practices at 11 at night at Patterson ice arena. He declined that option, because it was too late. A couple years later, he found that they were having practices downtown and started to go himself. Fifth grade me was curious and wanted to follow him. He was going, and once I got there, I was just hooked.”

Q: Is your dad your role model then throughout all of this?

A: “Yes, he’s a huge supporter. He drives me to all my meets, he’s a coach, a mentor, and helps me so much. He is so connected to the skating atmosphere.”

Q: Do you take a lot from professional speed skaters like Apolo Ohno?

A: “He’s so iconic. He’s a great skater with great tradition and is so much fun to watch. Any speed skating meet in general is so fun for me to watch, especially at the higher levels. They’re fast and full of energy, and when someone passes or makes a big move it’s huge. The energy is so big at meets.”

Q: What is your goal in this sport?

A: “To skate for as long as I can. There aren’t really any colleges out there that offer speed skating, but if there are some programs nearby, then I would like to participate in those for sure.”

Q: What was it like achieving the title of 6th in the nation?

A: “It was a big deal. In the last couple of seasons, my Dad and I felt like we were starting to hit some plateau seasons where I was not making very much progress and improving individually. But after a few days, it finally showed that all of the hard work that I had put in finally paid off. Everyone was so ecstatic, and it felt amazing.”