Ryan Webber, of Ormond Beach, took more than a decade off from competitive speed-skating. But when she laced up her skates earlier this month at the national championships, it was like she never left the sport.
BY ANDREW O'BRIEN | SPORTS EDITOR
After a 12-year sabbatical, Ormond Beach’s Ryan Webber has skated her way back to national relevancy as a competitive speed-skater.
Webber, 27, competed earlier this month at the USA Roller Sports 2013 Indoor Speed Skating National Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., where she finished fourth in the country in the women’s division.
To qualify for nationals, Webber placed third at the regional championships, which draws the fastest indoor speed-skaters from five states: Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
“I didn’t even expect to get to regionals after 12 years of not competing, so it was pretty crazy,” Webber said Wednesday.
Webber was a competitive speed-skater as a child, but she eventually decided to take time off to go through college and raise her son, Thomas, who is now 7.
In fact, Thomas is the reason she got back into the sport about a year ago.
“I totally stepped away from the sport,” she said. “I got back into it so my son and I could do something together.”
Now, the two of them are members of Team Botero, based out of Orlando, and train three to five days a week.
The competitions take place on a 100-meter track, and in Webber’s division, races are 500 meters, 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters.
To train for races, Webber said she does a lot of calisthenics, which are a variety of exercises and movements, generally without equipment. They are designed to increase body strength and flexibility. She also does plenty of sprints and interval training — both in running shoes and on skates.
“We do different types of drills that will help our technique,” she said. “The lower you are to the ground, the better.”
During the season, Webber will compete at a meet once a month, as part of the South Florida Speed League.
Webber is coached by Joe Hanna and Jorge Botero on her Botero Speed team, which sent five individuals to the national championships. And she doesn’t plan on taking another leave from the sport, either.
In fact, Webber just registered to become an official, and so she’ll be a referee at some meets. But the key to getting back to the elite level of speed-skating came from herself and her coaches.
“I think the key was the determination and my awesome coaches for giving us the motivation and the drive to do it,” she said.