Updated: 02/22/2013 12:06 AM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson
Seventeen-year-old Steven Hartman glides on the ice with his training group of elite skaters.
The Falcon Heights Teenager is considered one of the best junior speedskaters in the country.
"When I first started I didn't envision myself being where I am now," Hartman said.
Hartman trains with the Midway Speedskating Club at the John Rose Oval in Roseville. He says, the group is competitive and keeps him thinking of big competitions.
He has traveled to Japan, Canada and Italy to race.
"It's fun, kind of always have those goals in mind of making teams and stuff like that. So there's always that kind in the back of your mind," Hartman said.
Chris Hartman is Steven's dad. He says, his son tried basketball, football and hockey but they didn't keep his interest. When Steven tried speed skating he found his sport. The thing is, his dad says, Steven didn't really stand out.
"It's a sport where the harder you work the better you are going to get. You see yourself getting better and that motivated him," Steven's dad said.
On a winter night in February, Steven and his training partners are in the middle of some serious efforts.
"Eight warm up laps, some excels all as a group. And then we will do six by 400 at 100 percent and then some starts and then we'll be off," Hartman said.
Leading the way is Steven's coach Paul Dyrud. He's been coaching him for three years. Dyrud is a big time speed skater in his own right.
He just missed the 2010 Winter Olympic held in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada by a second. After several years away from the sport he is back in training for the 2014 Olympics. He says, Steven has what many skaters wish they had: mental toughness.
"Steven is able to stay focused on a day to day basis and then when it comes to a big competition he's really able to put everything together," Dyrud said.
The senior at Cretin-Derham Hall High School says, he is fully focused on the World Championships coming up. But he has his eye firmly set on a birth in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea.
Steven is a part of the nine-member U.S. Junior Speedskating Team. The World Junior Speed Skating Championships start Friday in Collalbo, Italy.