Karen Lehmann competed as an Olympic short track speed skater

PLYMOUTH – The pomp and ever-amazing circumstances of the Opening Ceremony. The absolute rush to compete against the best in the world in the sport you love while representing yourself, your team, and most importantly, your country.

The 2022 Winter Olympics are back as we all stay up late to see how Team USA fares against the best athletes from the rest of the world in Beijing, China. And no one watches all events more closely than Karen Lehmann.

“I’ve always loved watching the Olympics. I’ve never had enough of it as far back as I can remember. I’m obsessed with it,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann’s obsession with the Olympics is perfectly understandable. Especially when the Plymouth resident and French teacher at Marshfield High School picks up the bronze medal in speed skating she won for the women’s 3,000 meter short track relay as part of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics. In 1994.

“All of these amazing memories from that time in my life come back to me every time the Games are held,” Lehmann said. “I have followed the Olympics since I was a child and having the incredible opportunity to compete in Lillehammer was just an absolute dream come true for me.”

Following:Plymouth Girls Hockey Skates by WH/Silver Lake

Following:The youth movement has put Plymouth women’s hockey on the path to success

Plymouth resident Karen Lehmann won a bronze medal in short track speed skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Nancy and Tonya… and Karen

Lehmann, now 50, narrowly missed making the Olympic team for the 1992 Games in Albertville. Undeterred, she returned two years later and achieved her ultimate goal by making a spot on the Team USA squad in 1994.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, it was also the year of the figure skating soap opera Nancy Kerrigan vs. Tonya Harding.

“I was right in the middle,” joked Lehmann. “The figure skaters and speed skaters were in our own little bubble in the village and we shared a training rink with them. We all lived together in the village of Hamar, while all the other Olympians were a little further away in Lillehammer.

“Living in the Athletes’ Village was an amazing experience and the area was so beautiful,” she continued. “It was like living in a real winter wonderland. There was this cozy little feeling all over the area with snow all around you everywhere you looked.

After starting out as a figure skater, Karen Lehmann (left) found her true calling as a short track speed skater.

Ironically, as close as she was to the figure skating drama between Kerrigan and Harding, Lehmann really didn’t hear much about what was going on while she was at Lillehamer. She had other things on her mind that held her attention.

“As great as it was to be there in Lillehammer, I think we all considered it a business trip. We were there to compete and try to win a gold medal. part of the early events of the Games, so when my events were over, I was able to get out and explore both villages as a tourist and watch some of the competitions,” said Lehmann.

Following:The outdoor rink at Briggs Field in Manomet will open when cold weather cooperates

Following:Second proposed location for outdoor skating rink

Karen Lehmann poses with her son, Bryan.  A junior at Plymouth North, Bryan is a nationally ranked figure skater.

The need for speed

Lehmann’s Olympic dream didn’t always involve speed skating. The dream started with a considerably slower sport.

“I started out as a competitive figure skater,” explained Lehman, who trained with the Commonwealth Figure Skating Club in Randolph. “I skated competitively for years and also raced track at North Quincy High School. Speed ​​skating was an exhibition sport at the 1988 Games and I remember watching Bonny Blair skate and thinking, “Wow, that looks awesome. And with the experience I already had in skating and on track, I thought that was something I could do really well.

Lehmann made the jump from figure skating to speed skating at age 16, but old habits die hard. Coaches told her she often looked like a figure skater on the oval of the track, but that just made her work harder.

“It took about two years before I really felt like a speed skater,” she said. “Finally, everything clicked and everything fell into place.”

A champion figure skater, Lehmann had the same success as a speed skater. She won a bronze medal at the World University Games in 1993 as well as in 1995. She was on course for a second Olympic appearance in 1998 for the Nagano Games before serious leg and ankle injuries suffered. during an accident on the track did not force him to withdraw from competition.

Bryan Lehmann travels to Salem, NH five times a week to train as a figure skater.

Back to figure skating

The world is a circle, and Lehmann is once again involved in figure skating as she helps coach her 16-year-old son Bryan, a junior at Plymouth North who may have Olympic aspirations of his own.

Bryan is a nationally ranked solo figure skater in the junior division. So now, five days a week, he travels to Salem, New Hampshire to train in figure skating with an impressive array of coaches, including his mother.

“I had no intention of pushing Bryan to skate. I was helping an old friend practice at a local rink, and Bryan tried it out when he was about 5, and he really fell in love with it,” Lehmann said.

Bryan has skated in pairs and individually. He qualified for Nationals as a Novice and continues to add more skills to his impressive skating repertoire.

“My parents have been amazing helping him drive him to training every day and he’s worked with some amazing coaches,” his mum said. “As long as he likes it and likes to skate, we’ll see where it leads.”

(Then & Now is a new series catching up with former Plymouth High School athletes. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, contact Old Colony Memorial Sports Editor David Wolcott Jr. at [email protected])

Comments are closed.