Denton native and speedskater Jordan Malone won a bronze and gold medal at the 2013 World Cup in Shanghai this weekend. The medals may be a good indicator of how Malone and Team USA will perform in the 2014 Winter Olympics next year.
Malone competed in the 1,000 meters, which his mother, Peggy Aitken, said is his favorite race, and the 5,000-meter relay, in which the team won gold.
Malone couldn’t be reached for comment in Shanghai, but according to a Facebook post, he said he’s happy with the results but still not satisfied.
He also thanked his fans for their continued support.
The World Cup short track speedskating season kicked off Thursday and signaled the beginning stretch that will determine who makes up the Olympic speedskating teams.
There are four stops in the World Cup competition and a nation earns Olympic berths through the results earned at the third and fourth World Cup stops, Italy and Russia, respectively.
So, while the first two World Cup stops in Shanghai and Seoul provide a good prediction of what viewers can expect, they have no impact on the 2014 Winter Olympic rosters.
The next stop for Malone is Seoul, where the competition begins Thursday. He will compete in Italy on Nov. 7 and in Russia one week after that.
In a recent interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle, Malone said he looks forward to each race and returning to the Olympics.
Aitken is also busy working to generate support for her son locally. She’s working with local restaurants, which have agreed to hold Jordan Malone Rallies, agreeing to donate a portion of their earnings.
She said she encourages the community to make it out to Buffalo Wild Wings in Denton every Thursday because they donate 10 percent of the bill to Malone.
“It’s expensive being a skater,” she said. “From their skates to their trips — it’s hard. There’s not a lot of money on speedskating anymore.”
The biggest U.S. stars from the 2010 Olympics, Apolo Ohno and Katherine Reutter, are retired, and with their retirement went the big sponsors, Malone said.
Malone, a 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, said the 2014 Winter Olympics may be his last. At 29, Malone says he is an old-timer compared to rest of his competition.
In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, Malone said this is the best he’s felt physically. He’s suffered few injuries, which forced him to put his career on hold for a while.
In a recent interview, Malone said he’s been working tirelessly preparing for Shanghai and the rest of the 2013 World Cup.
He said he’s ready to once again represent Texas and Denton.
“Texans are just proud of where they come from,” he said. “Whenever someone asks where we’re from, we say ‘Texas’ with a different kind of energy.
With this competition, Malone and the rest of the speedskating team hope to move past some controversy that followed the team recently.
About a year ago, a group of 14 American speedskaters, including Malone, boycotted the U.S. team, accusing the head coach at the time, Jae Su Chun, and his two assistants of vast and unchecked abuse.
The accusations led U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun to launch an investigation.
Chun has denied claims of abuse and said he’s innocent, according to a statement by his spokesman, Hyonmyong Cho.
Malone said he tries to look past the distraction, which includes the financial obstacles.
“I try not to let it bother me,” he said. “You race better when your mind is just clear and focused.”
Malone anticipates that he will earn enough to make it to Russia in 2014. His biggest financial concern, however, is making sure that his mother can make it, too.
“She’s sacrificed a lot,” he said. “I really want her there because she has supported me even when times got tough.”
Watch and keep track of Malone’s results on shorttrack.sportresult.com.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.