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Corinne Stoddard Excited To Crack Open Passport Again And Get Back To Competition At Worlds

By Karen Price | Feb. 22, 2021, 5:36 p.m. (ET)

For people accustomed to traveling, whether for business or pleasure, it’s been a strange 12 months.

Whether simply discouraged or outright prohibited in some cases, there hasn’t been much jet-setting going on since COVID-19 spread rapidly across the globe around this time last year.

So for short track speed skater Corinne Stoddard, the chance to head to the Netherlands for the World Championships at the beginning of March is going to be a welcome return to something that has been so normal for her for so many years.

“I’m excited; it’s going to be nice to finally travel for a competition,” Stoddard said. “It’s been over a year since we went to an international competition. Or went anywhere other than (Utah), really.”

Stoddard is just 19 years old, but speedskating has already taken her all over the world. It started when she was a burgeoning inline speed skater. Several months ago, she posted a throwback photo to her Facebook account of her at just 6 years old at her first inline nationals, her dad holding her in his arms as she raises her hand for a high five. 

Her first major international trip came when she was just 12 years old and headed off to race in both Germany and France, she said. As she continued to progress in the sport, it continued to take her away from her home outside Seattle.  

“Yeah, I missed a lot of school,” she said. “We always had to work with the school on getting my work early and making sure it was OK that I missed time. There were many days we had to basically ask the school to work with us.”

Once that started happening year after year, Stoddard said, the school became accustomed to excusing her absences and working with her competition schedule to complete assignments and take tests. 

And while her friends at home thought it was cool that she was getting to do things most kids don’t, she was also making friends all over the country.

“I have a bunch of friends on the East Coast, a bunch in the middle of the country, a bunch down south, so that was cool,” she said. “I got to meet up with them whenever there was a competition.”

Stoddard said she hasn’t counted the number of U.S. states she’s visited, but estimates the number somewhere between 20 to 30 plus ventures across each border to Canada and Mexico. Her international travels have taken her all over the globe, from Colombia (where inline speed skating is like football in the U.S., she said) to China, South Korea and Japan in Asia to Germany, France, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands. 

Of those, she said, China was probably the most different in terms of familiarity. She was just 15 the first time she traveled there for an inline competition.

“It was for junior world championships so I had all my friends from the U.S. with me so we all had a bunch of fun there,” she said. “The culture is definitely different; you get a lot of stares because you don’t look like them. And we weren’t really allowed to leave the hotel without an adult because it’s kind of sketchy being somewhere where you don’t know the language and so you might not be able to get a taxi back to your hotel, or they might not be able to understand which hotel you’re at, so we didn’t get to adventure out too much. But everything I saw was pretty cool.”

Her most extensive time overseas came when she lived in Germany for six months to train with coach Kalon Dobbin and the Arena Geisingen Team. Geisingen, she said, is a very small town in the middle of nowhere about an hour and a half from Stuttgart, and while she was there to train and didn’t do much sightseeing, it was an “awesome” experience.

“Their track is the best in the world for inline, and the team is amazing,” she said. “The coach is one of my favorite people and it was just a great experience. I love the food there, so that was nice, too.”

Her favorite German dish?

It’s called a doner kabab. 

“It’s basically a tostada with lamb and lettuce and tomato and onion and bunch of different vegetables, then it has this, kind of like ranch, but not ranch, dressing that goes inside it,” she said. “It’s really good. And always super fresh.”

Stoddard now lives and trains in Utah with the rest of the U.S. national team. She graduated from high school last year and is currently taking general education classes online through Salt Lake City Community College.

Having recently returned to practice after taking a few days off to recover from a bulging disc in her spine, she said, she’s pain free and excited about the World Championships.

“It’s been really weird (not traveling), and I’ve definitely missed racing,” she said. “This year has been all training, and that’s mentally really tough, so it’s nice to be able to finally get some racing in.”

Karen Price

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to USSpeedskating.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Corinne Stoddard