After a brief retirement from speed skating, Will Dutton has come back and been nothing short of excellent in his World Cup events so far.
He won the first World Cup medal of his career last week, bronze in the 500 metre in Calgary Nov. 15, and would go on to medal in three more races including silvers in two other 500 metre races and gold in the team sprint event.
His previous best finish for long-track skating was seventh at the World Sprint Championships in 2014.
For Dutton, who hails from Humboldt, Saskatchewan but has family in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, his retirement came after a bit of a let down at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“I had a bit of post Olympic blues,” Dutton said. “I felt like I wanted to do other things with my life. I hadn’t medaled and I was a bit down on myself.”
Coming out of retirement has proven to be a good decision, one that was made a little easier with the addition of Kevin Crockett as the new sprint coach for Speed Skating Canada.
“I found out that he got the job and thought it’s worth a shot to see what could happen,” Dutton said. Maybe I’d be a little faster, maybe I wouldn’t, but I had to try. Obviously, now I’ve shown I’m a competitor and this is where I want to be.”
During his retirement, Dutton had aspirations for a career in carpentry, designing and building backyard ponds to be more specific. While this was in the works, he enrolled in a firefighting program before deciding to give speed skating another shot.
“It was a shame when Will hung up his skates,” sprint coach Kevin Crockett said. “When you see a guy retire in his prime, I just thought it was an injustice.”
After a perfect start to his comeback, Dutton has his eyes on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“It was pretty crazy,” Dutton said after wrapping up his fourth medal in four races. “I really wanted it, because I wanted to come up with a strong finish to end the North American string of World Cups and make it four for four.”
After his successful start in the World Cup, Dutton has been named to the Speed Skating Canada team that will travel to Europe for the next two World Cup events. The third World Cup event will take place in Inzell, Germany (Dec. 4-6). The fourth World Cup event will follow on Dec. 11-13 in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
“Hitting back to back podiums feels great,” he said. “But it’s really just about keeping consistency in my preparation. Every race is a new challenge and I’m really happy I’m able to face these challenges and overcome them each time. Every medal has a different story and I think that’s really neat.”
— with files from Speed Skating Canada