Michael W. Hubbs
Speedskater and Olympic hopeful
When Michael Hubbs was 10, he met his first speedskaters at the Westlake Center (now Aloha Skate Center), in Mesquite Texas. That was the beginning of his great passion.
He and his younger sister, Rachael, were raised by their grandmother. Their mother had left, and their father was homeless. Michael got into trouble, and ended up in jail, but never gave up.
When he was 16, he had an opportunity to train in inline speedskating at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs—but his father refused, insisting that he attend Texas School for the Deaf. Although Hubbsl benefited from TSD, and got a good education there, he resented being sidetracked. He was an outstanding, prize-winning swimmer at TSD and Gallaudet University, where he broke seven collegiate records while earning his degree in Business Administration. He finally withdrew from the team because he realized that it wasn't his passion.
In 2010, he talked with his friend Jordan Malone, a short-track speedskater who had won an Olympic medal in Vancouver. Was he "willing to start all over again and finish what I didn't finish in the past?" He certainly was, and began practicing inline speedskating again.
In May 2010, despite not having skated for 10 years, he took bronze in the 500m and 1000m at the Southern Regional Championships. Qualifying for the USA National Speed Skating Championship in July, he placed fourth in the 1000m. After discussing his future with Coach Jim Blair, he switched from inline to ice speedskating.
After selling everything he owned, including his car, he bought a one-way ticket to Salt Lake City so he could train at the Olympic Oval. He was guided by Coach Derek Parra, an Olympic medalist and world-record holder himself (he took silver in the 5000m and gold at the 1500m in the 2002 Winter Olympics, an experience he described in Reflections in the Ice: Inside the Heart and Mind of an Olympic Champion ). Parra had also made the transition from inline to ice, and helped Hubbs "endure hard work, countless hours and unending commitment in order to become part of the Facilitated Athlete Sport Training (FAST) team."
In August 2011, Hubbsl competed in the Desert Classic at the Olympic Oval. He shaved 5 seconds off his personal-best time in the 500m, and, in the1500m, 13 seconds. The following month, at the American Cup, he took overall bronze in the 500m.
Photo courtesy of Sung Park
At the Masters' International Long Track Sped Skating Championship (January 26, 2013), he won a bronze, and a silver for total points. "I'm going to work a lot harder," he told us. "I refuse to settle for silver."
He trains 6 days a week at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee, with Tony Goskowicz as short-track coach and Kreg Greer as long-track coach. Neither coach had experience with Deaf people, but they've worked out the communication challenges.
Hubbs has his sight set on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi . . . and is determined not to let anything stop him. If he makes the team, he will be the first Deaf Olympic speedskater.