21 Questions for 21 Olympians: Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, US Olympic Speed Skater The work of interviewing Olympians rolls on!

What a grand experience to learn from the trials and triumphs of successful people like Olympians.

Last week I was able to interview Jessica Smith, a speed skater. She competed in the 2014 Sochi Games.

The theme I'm noticing with the female athletes I've interviewed is that they had someone or others in their lives with whom they were trying to keep up. Jessica's dad, her first coach when she was roller skating - Jessica makes it clear this was on 4 wheels, not even inline skates - would tell her to go catch the older kids. He never let her settle or take a pass.

When she was 12 she was competing against and beating 16-year olds. She had a successful career in inline skating, but after accomplishing just about all she could in that sport, she was ready for a new challenge and decided to switch to speed skating so she could compete in the Olympics.

One of her most painful moments was in 2010 when she attended the Games as an alternate. She wanted to be skating so badly; it hurt to be the alternate watching the others compete.

Watch for her story and others when I launch the book next spring, "21 Questions for 21 Olympians."