Parkite Abigail Sorensen to compete in World Junior Long Track Championships this weekend in Poland
It’s been a long journey full of stepping stones for Abigail Sorensen.
For the Parkite, her dream started nearly six years ago in Palo Alto, California, in front of her television. It was February and the Sochi Winter Olympics were in full swing, and Sorensen found herself enamored with speed skating, remembering how “cool” it looked.
Now Sorensen is on the brink of achieving a milestone toward her dream competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. This weekend, she will compete in the World Junior Long Track Championships in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland.
“It’s really surreal knowing that I’m going to be competing against the best juniors in the world. … And that this is all started because I was watching TV,” Sorensen said. “I’m definitely kind of nervous for it and am still just trying to wrap my head around it all. It’s really exciting and nerve-wracking to be in a new place and racing again so we’ll just see how it goes.”
After that day in 2014, Sorensen and her dad, a former speed skater himself, researched speed skating venues. They came across the Northern California Speedskating Association in Oakland, and through their “come and try it for a day” program, Sorensen began her journey on the ice.
She began skating in both long track and short track, loving the different challenges that each provided her.
“I train both and race both. … And they’re both different with completely different physical abilities and emotions,” Sorensen said. “Long track is about racing against the clock and (being) meditative. Short track is about how good you are at passing and quickly accelerating, more fast-paced and thinking on your feet.”
When she was just beginning in the sport in California, Sorensen had the dream but never knew a way to accomplish it. She had no idea how to get seen or make it to the pinnacle of the sport for juniors.
But that all changed when Sorensen moved back to Park City in 2015, joining the Park City Speed Skating Club and igniting that spark that would help her toward her goal. It was during training at the Utah Olympic Oval where she saw how good people can be, and how that helped push her to realize her own potential.
“We train at the same place where the national team trains so we got to watch them. … It made me think that I can do this and it’s not truly some impossible thing,” she said. “It was definitely like one day I want to be there and do that so I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to give it 11% and lets see if I can make it.”
Sorensen, a 16 year-old junior at Silver Summit Academy, has done everything she could to make it the Junior World Championships.
Her typically schedule involves being on the ice every day or at least six times a week.
She does short track training three to four times a week down at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns beginning at 7 a.m. — which means she is up at 4:50 a.m. — before being done around 10:30-11 and going to school in the afternoon.
Her long track schedule is a bit easier, usually twice a week where she gets to sleep in until 6:40 a.m. before being done around lunchtime and heading to classes.
It may seem like a crazy and hectic lifestyle, but it’s one that she wouldn’t change in any way.
“Being how young I am, I’m way more lucky than some may think because I get to experience new things all the time,” Sorensen said. “It more than makes up for the early mornings. … But being able to experience new countries, new friends and new ways of skating is more than I even couldn’t asked for.”
While the Junior Worlds are coming up, Sorensen openly acknowledges that this event is more about the learning experience than getting a medal. Although that’s always the end goal, the more realistic one is gathering the experience needed to compete against the worlds best so when she’s on a stage of this magnitude, the nerves and the fear will be gone and she’ll just be able to skate.
“I’m going to be one of the younger girls in the competition. … And with that it’s just very hard to show up and race and not think about anything else,” she said. “This is a whole new level of racing I’ve never been at before so one of my main plans is to just soak up as much information as possible. I’ll be coming back next year and that’s when I feel like I’ll be able to truly do this.”
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