“Thinking back to the day I won the silver Olympic medal is still one of the most exhilarating feelings,” says Katherine Reutter, “but it’s really just a piece of metal and it doesn’t make you any happier.”
So what does it take to make a world-class speed skater happy, if not her ever-growing collection of loot from Olympic and World Championship competitions? Katherine answers by saying, “What drives me is feeling satisfied with the amount of work that I put in” — in which case, she must be one of the most satisfied athletes on the planet.
Katherine began developing her work ethic at age five. Giving up the spins and twirls of figure skating to satisfy her seemingly inbuilt speed jones, young Katherine and her family made the six-hour round-trip drive from Champaign, Illinois to St. Louis twice a week so that Katherine could practice.
Now training with the U.S. Olympic team in Salt Lake City, Katherine typically spends nine hours a day on the ice, but the hard work doesn’t end when she leaves the rink. “Being an elite athlete is 100 percent a lifestyle,” Katherine says. “Even the days I get off to appear at Rose Bowl parades or whatever, I woke up at five that morning to get my workout in. That’s the difference between people with an amazing amount of talent and people who are on top of their sport year after year.”
Just because she’s satisfied with the amount of effort that she dedicates to training, don’t expect Katherine to go easy on her competition. The workaholic wunderkind has her sights set on officially breaking the 1000 meter world record—a feat she routinely accomplishes in practice.