KEARNS, Utah — While not making the United States Olympic speed skating team might be a major disappointment for some, Sarah Warren is taking it in stride.
She is well aware that her peak as a long-track skater isn’t now and it might not even be in four years. It could be as long as eight years before the Willowbrook native is at her best.
One reason is that her attentions are divided between different sports. She’s young enough to focus on speed skating for the future without sacrificing her other athletic pursuits.
At age 17, the Hinsdale South senior finished ninth in the 1,000-meter race on Dec. 29 at the U.S. Olympic long-track skating trials in Kearns, Utah. One day earlier, Warren was eighth in the 500 meters.
When all the races were completed, eight women had earned spots on the team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The youngest is 23-year-old Sugar Todd. Six of the eight members are 25 or older.
“Minus Sugar Todd, they’re all about 10 years older,” Warren said. “They train a lot more. Because of soccer, because I live so far away, and because of school, I only can train three times a week.
“I’m really happy with what I’m doing right now, but I feel like I’m setting myself up to go faster when I get older.”
For a brief moment, Warren’s name sat at the top of the standings at the 1,000-meter race. Then the older, more experienced skaters took their turns.
“I knew my name would start going down the leaderboard, but I was happy to be on top at one point,” Warren said.
It wouldn’t be long before she would have other things to think about. One day after that race, she went to play in a soccer tournament in Florida. Warren has earned a scholarship to play soccer at Illinois next year.
In the spring, you can find Warren on the track, running for Hinsdale South.
“It’s nice that I’m able to do school sports, do this, do club sports,” she said. “I get to meet a lot of people.”
How did she ever get to “do this”?
“I used to play hockey and I was a super tomboy — I wanted to hit it,” Warren said. “The boys got bigger and I stayed the same size. We were at a hockey rink one day and I saw, on the other side, that they were speed skating. I thought, ‘Oh, they’re going really fast. That seems fun.’ ”
Warren already is thinking about how she wants to juggle her schedule at Illinois. That’s because speed skating is never really on the backburner for her, even if her best prospects are years down the line.
“Speed skating is definitely here to stay,” she said. “I’ve been able to do both competitively for awhile and we’re going to see how it works. There’s a rink at the U. of I. that is short-track, but that really helps when it comes to long-track. I’ll be doing that during soccer season and then driving to Pettit in Milwaukee during the [speed skating] season and, hopefully, that will work out.
“I’m trying to get no classes on Friday, so I can go Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then do homework on the train.”