Until last year, Will Gebauer lived in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, enjoying walks along the lakefront. Now he’s training full-time for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Will started skating at 9 years old and went on to earn spots on the 2017 and 2018 Junior Long Track World teams. He also finished third in the 500m at the 2019 U.S. Long Track Championships and is a US Junior Team Sprint National Record Holder.
In May, Will was named to the National Long Track Team. He relocated to Utah in 2019 and trains at the Utah Olympic Oval with National Head Coach Ryan Shimabukuro.
“It was a pretty big transition,” he said. “I feel I did it pretty well. The training program is very different: more sprint specific focus, a little more rest and different timing of workouts. But there’s also definitely a lot more rest in the training program out here. I’m getting used to a different coach and teammates.
I feel like I’ve made some friends and I’m getting Ryan’s technical cues a bit better.”
His favorite distance is the 1000m, a race he considers to be the “sweet spot” where it has to be an all-out sprint but strategic, too. He skated a personal best in that distance during the U.S. Championships in December, crossing the line at 1:09.98.
Learning how to train during the COVID-19 quarantine has been his biggest challenge, so far. Getting used to wearing a face mask during workouts has been tough, but he feels lucky to be quarantined with his girlfriend Samantha Snyder and teammates Conor McDermott-Mostowy and Austin Kleba.
“I feel pretty lucky,” Will said. “We’ve watched lots of Netflix and TV shows and we’ve done a lot of hiking.
His goal is to make the fall world cup team, although he’s trying not to get attached to that goal depending on the status of the racing season this year. Will is happy to be in Utah, have fun and remember how sport brings people together.
“Shani Davis once told me, ‘Once this becomes a job for you, quit, because it’s not worth it to skate if you don’t love it,’” he said. “And I enjoy lots of things. Even though I am an athlete, I’m very dorky. I love math and science and things you wouldn’t normally associate with an athlete.”
Will just finished his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2019 and eventually wants to go to medical school, possibly studying anesthesiology. His mom’s job as a physical therapist at a veteran’s hospital made an impact on him and he also wants to help people. But for now, he’s put medical school aside for a shot at the Games in Beijing.
“It’s great to have Will on the national team this year,” Shimabukuro said. “He’s been steadily progressing from the junior ranks over the past few seasons and made a good jump last year so I’m excited to be working with him and see his continued progression.”