Jan. 31, 2014

Schulich student competing in Sochi Olympics

Lucas Makowsky is on the Canadian Speed Skating team

After roughly 10,000 hours training at the Olympic Oval and 20 of his 26 years with speed skates on, Lucas Makowsky is on his way to Sochi to represent Canada in the 1500 meter and Team Pursuit speed skating events, one of about 24 students or recent graduates competing in the Olympics.

"I'm feeling everything from being relieved and excited to being focused and confident," says the University of Calgary student, who won gold in Vancouver in the Team Pursuit with team mates Denny Morrison and Mathieu Giroux. "The real hype of everything 'Olympic' started to set in after the official team announcement on January 22."

Makowsky, who will graduate in June with a double major in chemical engineering and economics, says the Oval feels "like a second home" because he's spent so much time in the facility during the nine years he's lived in Calgary.

"You can't get a better setup as a student-athlete having the Oval right on the campus," he says. "There have been times where I've still been on ice 15 minutes before class starts and have still made it on time."

The Regina native chose to study at the University of Calgary in part because of the Oval and the National Long Track program, but also because of what the Schulich School of Engineering had to offer.

"There was never a guarantee I would make it this far in speed skating, so the fact that I could pursue my chemical engineering degree was a win-win for me," he says.

There are a few parallels between his sport and his study—fluid dynamics (drag forces with body position and the types of materials used in our skin suits), water properties (how cold the ice is, humidity in the building, what kind of water is used to make the ice, etc.) and g-forces in the corners—but he's not sure yet which field will get the upper hand in the short term.

"No matter what I decide to do after this season is over—keep skating or start a professional career—I do plan on writing the fundamentals of engineering exam sometime this spring or summer."

In the meantime, Makowsky's brother, dad and best friend are all heading to Russia to watch him compete, while other family and friends will be cheering him on from the couch back in Canada.

Lucas competes in the 1500m Feb 15 and the Team Pursuit Feb 21 + 22. You can follow his progress on Twitter and Facebook.