Shimabukuro inks another 4 years as US speedskating coach

SALT LAKE CITY — Fresh off the best Olympic showing by the U.S. speedskating team in a dozen years, Ryan Shimabukuro is staying on for another four years as coach of the American squad.

Shimabukuro posted a picture on his Facebook page Tuesday showing him signing his new contract at the Utah Olympic Oval in suburban Salt Lake City.

“Officially signed for 4 more years with U.S. Speedskating!” Shimabukuro wrote. “Honored to start my 25th year as a coach with the Organization.”

The new deal takes him through the next Winter Games at Milan and Cortina, Italy in 2026.

Shimabukuro coached a squad that won three medals at the Beijing Games in February, highlighted by Erin Jackson becoming the first Black woman to capture a speedskating gold with her victory in the 500 meters.

Brittany Bowe won bronze in the 1,000, and the U.S. men grabbed another bronze in the team pursuit.

The three medals placed the Americans in a tie for fifth on the overall speedskating medal table and was the team’s best performance since taking one gold, two silvers and a bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

At the previous two Olympics, the U.S. had managed only a single bronze medal.

Shimabukuro bounced back after suffering a heart attack on Memorial Day weekend in 2019 while camping in a remote area of Utah.

He was flown back to Salt Lake City on a Life Flight helicopter and had surgery to put in a stent for a significant blockage.

“Obviously, I’m not invincible,” Shimabakuro told The Associated Press during an interview at the Beijing Olympics. “The one thing I was worried about: Was I going to be able to continue to coach at this level with the amount of stress that’s involved?”

Shimabukuro made some changes in his professional life. He doesn’t stay at the rink until all hours of the night, ensuring he has time to get adequate sleep. He also gave more responsibility to his athletes to keep up with their workouts and rehabs.

He may work fewer hours, but Shimabukuro still has the same passion for the sport that prompted him to leave his native Hawaii as a teenager to pursue the unlikely dream of becoming a long-track speedskater.

He failed to make the Olympic team as an athlete, but has become a mainstay of the American coaching staff and highly popular with his skaters.

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