KEARNS, Utah (NEXSTAR) – Olympic athletes devote their lives to the sport they choose. But for some, the sport chooses them.
That’s the case for Jerica Tandiman, a speed skater hoping to make team USA. Growing up, she watched her future rising in her backyard.
“I just lived across the fields and I got to watch the building be built,” explained Tandiman.
Jerica Tandiman is talking about Utah’s Olympic Oval where she now practices, day after day, hoping to go for the gold at PyeongChang in 2018.
“I’m up for the challenge and I’m ready to compete,” said Tandiman.
Jerica has been that way since as long as she can remember.
“I was always a super competitive child and wanted to race people and beat everyone,” she explained.
That competitive drive started around the time the Oval was built, and Jerica went with her family to watch the athletes.
“I had no idea what speed skating was,” she said. “I remember as a kid coming to the rink when they built it and seeing the speed skaters just fly by and I was just so fascinated.”
Jerica’s mom signed her up for lessons after the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Eight years later, as a teenager she got her first gold, at the American Cup 2. Since then, she’s kept pushing her limit, working to be the best.
“You get to that point in your mind, like, I can’t do this, how can I do another set, how can I do another rep?” she said. “But then, when you push through that feeling at the end is like, I really can do it if I get my mind right, my body can do more than I think.”
Part of getting her mind right is looking to the past, where the dream began.
“I always look back and remember my seven-year-old self and what got me into this sport and why I love it so much and you know I’m really lucky for all that I’ve had,” she said.
In 2018 she will be hoping for even more.
The Winter Olympics is just 133 days away. You’ll be able to watch the competition right here on KSN and NBC.