MU speed skaters go global

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While the campus is buzzing with excitement for the men’s basketball team’s advancement to the Sweet 16, two other sports stars that call Marquette home have recently made an impact of their own.

Speed skaters Brian Hansen, a freshman, and Mary Grace, a sophomore, have taken part in international competition this year and helped turn in some impressive results for Team USA.

Hansen traveled to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to compete in the ISU World Allround Championships Feb. 12-13.  He picked up a silver medal in the 500-meter on the first day of competition with a personal best 35.33 seconds and skated another personal best, 1:43.35, in the 1,500-meter to take the bronze the next day.

Hansen is no stranger to contending at such a high level in his sport. He is a former Junior World Championship medalist in the 1,500-meter and 1,000-meter events and his men’s pursuit team won a silver medal for the U.S. in the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

“It was a lot of fun walking in with everyone during the opening ceremonies with the huge amount of energy surrounding us,” Hansen said. “Beating the Dutch in the team pursuit was probably the best moment.”

Grace competed in the 2011 World Junior Speed Skating Championships held in Seinajoki, Finland in late February. Her pursuit team finished fourth with an overall time of 3:23.37.

She hopes to build upon her recent success and to represent the USA in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I want to make it to Sochi in 2014,” Grace said. “I was very close last year to making the team in short track, but it didn’t work out and I still want that experience.”

For both athletes, competing against the world’s best has been a both intimidating and exciting experience.

“It’s humbling,” Grace said. “You really see how talented everyone else is and it inspires you to work harder.”

“I know that everyone out there I’m competing against lives a similar lifestyle to the one I’m living,” Hansen said. “It’s really cool to share that with people from all over the world.”

Hansen said that the international matches are on a “whole other level” than the other local competitions he skates in.

“There’s local, then world, then the Olympics,” Hansen said. “The local matches can sometimes be a little more low-key, since some of us know each other personally.”

Hansen and Grace both hope to get another chance to represent the USA and Marquette on a global scale.

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