After years of sacrificing high school parties for late nights on the ice rink, recent Georgetown Day graduate Conor McDermott-Mostowy will compete in Milwaukee next month for a place on the U.S. Olympic long track speed skating team.
The 18-year-old moved to Wisconsin in August to train for a gap year and now spends six days at practice, while also fitting in time to work at a local coffee shop. Next fall, he plans to study pre-med at a Wisconsin liberal arts college while preparing for the Winter Olympics in 2022 — whether or not he makes it to this February’s games in South Korea.
McDermott-Mostowy first picked up ice skates at age 2, took up speed skating in third grade and really ramped up training as a young teenager, spending 15 to 20 hours a week on the ice.
His passion for speed skating came with significant costs. As a high school student, he seldom attended social events, dividing his time carefully among practice, classes and homework. McDermott-Mostowy said he averaged six hours of sleep a night at most, sometimes training until midnight and then returning home to study into the early hours of the morning. Going to sleep before 1:30 a.m. was a rarity.
While speed skating hindered his social life, he admitted the sport helped build his self-confidence.
“When I was at school, I was pretty shy,” McDermott-Mostowy said. “I didn’t really like to try new things. So trying speed skating was kind of a big deal.”
But his speed skating path wasn’t always smooth. Last year, he failed to make the Junior World team for short track skating, leading him to take up a different event.
Now, McDermott-Mostowy mostly competes in long track speed skating, a sport he says is actually better suited to his 6-foot-1-inch height.
McDermott-Mostowy credits much of his success to his parents’ enduring support. And while the skating pursuit took a toll on the family’s time and money, his parents are bursting with pride.
“He worked really hard for it,” Conor’s mother Elizabeth McDermott told The Current. “I’m so proud of him, and so excited.”
Conor’s father Tom Mostowy added that he and his wife shared the burdens of their son’s demanding schedule.
“It was sort of divide and conquer,” said Mostowy. “When Conor got his driver’s license, that was a godsend.”
McDermott-Mostowy isn’t optimistic that he’ll make the 2018 Olympic team, despite his plans to try out next month.
“It’s more for the experience,” he said. “2022 is definitely my goal.”