Short track speedskater Allison Baver owes her 2010 Olympic teammate Aly Dudek a huge thank you. If it wasn’t for Dudek and her boyfriend of one year, bobsledder Steve Langton, Baver might not be engaged.
Baver recommended the couple — who are currently appearing together on “The Amazing Race” — for “The Millionaire Matchmaker” two years after she first went on the reality matchmaking show.
“I was having a hard time finding love, honestly,” said Baver, who won bronze at the 2010 Games. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
It had been four years since her relationship with fellow speedskater Apolo Ohno had ended, and, she said, “part of me was thinking, maybe I will find love on the show. You never know.”
Her episode didn’t end with a love connection.
“It just wasn’t the right time,” she said. But the two-time Olympic speedskater did keep in touch with the producer — who initially came to her with the idea of being on “The Bachelorette.”
Years later when he called “asking if I had any professional athlete friends who were looking for love or relationship advice, Aly and Steve [who had been dating just six months at the time] were among the people I referred.”
But a week before they were supposed to start filming, they had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict. Baver remembered, “The producers were scrambling to find someone to fill the spot.” So, she said, “Since they knew I was in a new relationship they asked if I would come on with my boyfriend of seven months” to get advice from the show’s expert, Patti Stanger.
What the 34-year-old didn’t know at the time was that she would end up getting proposed to on national television. TeamUSA.org talked to Baver to get all the details on the wedding and hear about her experience on the show.
First off, congratulations!
Ha, thanks. We had to keep it quiet until the show aired so now it’s a little odd because we’ve already been engaged for a while. But it’s nice. We’ve started to get settled in and start planning for the future, so it’s fun to be getting well wishes now.
So when is the big day?
Well, we’re holding off on setting a date because there is talk that we might get married on the show. We were actually going to get married on the last season, but the timing didn’t work out. And apparently Patti is ordained so she might be the one marrying us.
That’s crazy! Kind of like your proposal on the show. It was very spur of the moment. It happened after Patti threw your boyfriend, Tommy, her ring and sort of dared him.
Yeah. So we went to get relationship advice and that was going to be really fun, but the first day of filming we were in this really intense meeting with Patti. After telling us she thought we were a good couple she challenged him to propose. I was so embarrassed. But after he popped the question, he told me he had actually been thinking about it for a while but that he didn’t know when and where to do it. So he just seized the moment.
Are you still wearing the ring he proposed with, since it was technically Patti’s ring?
That ring was actually from her line of jewelry. It’s really pretty. She gave it to me, and I kind of want to keep it as my engagement ring. But after we got engaged, Patti took Tommy ring shopping. He won’t tell me anything about the ring Patti helped him pick out, so I’ve been left out of the loop on that one.
So you didn’t actually get engaged at the end of filming?
It happened literally Day 1 out of 10 days of filming. After doing some intros on camera we met with Patti. We’re in this deep conversation where she’s asking these serious questions, like what was holding me back in love. And it was actually a fear of failing. I think it ties back to being an athlete. All athletes love winning. We can’t lose at anything, even love.
It was during that conversation when it happened. Afterwards everyone was like, what do we do now? So for all the other things we had planned to shoot I couldn’t wear the ring. We had to pretend like it didn’t happen and we weren’t already engaged. On the show they made it look like we did all these activities, like skating and pole dancing and that we got over all our issues, but he actually proposed to me on the first day.
The issue you’re talking about is the fact that Tommy used to be an exotic dancer?
Yeah. Being that I’m an Olympic athlete — far removed from the nightlife scene and anything in that category — we had some serious discussions about his past. I was having a hard time with it. On one hand, I was saying, ‘This guy is amazing and he’s so kind and such a gentleman.’ And I didn’t want to judge someone because it’s different. But I grew up in a small town outside Pennsylvania in a very conservative family. My mom and dad are still married, so I’m a more traditional girl.
But Tommy danced at a very high level throughout his career as a dancer — we’re talking Italy, all over the world — and I found a lot of respect for the performance aspect of what he did. There are lights and darks to the industry, but everyone automatically thinks of the dark.
On your episode, you took a pole dancing class to give you some perspective into Tommy’s old life. What was that like?
That was horrible! Everything on the pole is very upper body driven — things we never use in speed skating — so I knew it was going to be difficult. I definitely need to practice that a lot more, but I have no interest in ever doing it again!
You retired from speedskating last year, but what does Tommy think about your sport? Did he enjoy getting to learn how to skate on “The Millionaire Matchmaker”?
He actually got to see me skate my very last Olympic trials, which was cool. I would have liked for him to have been there when I was at my prime. I think it’s a bit hard to comprehend what really goes on when you’re competing and training at that level. I don’t know if he truly understands, but he tries really hard. Learning to skate was one way he tried.
Early in our relationship he actually asked me to go on an ice skating date but I’m really weird when it comes to skating recreationally. It’s not fun for me. I only like skating at a very high level. But now that I’ve been retired for a year I actually wanted to go ice skating when we were in New York City over Christmas, but we didn’t have time.
Is Tommy in the sports field as well?
He has a company called Go Fit Hero doing corporate wellness. He has an office here in Utah, which sells supplements and proteins. When Olympic trials were coming up, I was looking for this one protein that I like and they were the only ones who sold it locally. I went there in between workouts — wearing my workout clothes, which is not the best attire to meet someone in. I was waiting for someone to check to see if they had any in stock and he came out of his office and said, “I bet you can’t get those pants just anywhere?” I looked down and realized they said US Speedskating on them. I was so embarrassed that I just said no and that was it.
But I later reached out to him through Facebook about helping me get the protein and he called me within 30 minutes. We talked for an hour, but never mentioned protein. We went on a date the next day. You never think you’ll meet someone that way — it’s like meeting someone at the grocery store. When you least expect it is when they say it happens, right?