While it’s not unusual for a younger sibling to look up at an older one, Danielle Wotherspoon agrees it’s a little different when your older brother is Olympic athlete, medal winner and hall of famer Jeremy Wotherspoon.
“So many skaters around the world have watched him when he was skating to watch his technique,” she said. “For me I get to watch him but I also get to know him and know how he became as good as he did.”
The pair have taken somewhat different paths within the speed skating world.
Jeremy was always one of the top skaters in his age group while Danielle admits she was good when she was younger but she had some struggles later on, then some injuries slowed her down and she took some time off in her 20s from the sport.
She came back as a different athlete with a changed outlook and managed to shave a second off her time in the 500m.
The 32-year-old Red Deer native who grew up with speed skating training on the outdoor oval near the Golden Circle when she was five, recently qualified in the five hundred for the Canadian World Cup racing team.
“People are missing the team by hundredths of a second so to consistently race at the level is just a huge success for me and to do that after the struggles I had last year was a big achievement for me,” she said.
“For me what I see as a huge success for myself might be a completely different result than what my brother saw for him.”
With 2014 being an Olympic trial year Danielle says making this team was a boost in confidence, knowing she can skate with the rest of the girls on the team.
“Just knowing that I have a more of a steady presence on the circuit now it’ll give me more experience racing outside of Calgary too.”
While she still looks at her brother’s skating for technique, Danielle admits there are two other men in her life when it comes to skating.
“I have two guys that I try to follow and I try to chase all the time,” she said, referring to team members Jamie Gregg and Gilmore Junio. “I mean if you can keep up to the boys you should be pretty good. They just have a technique I want to emulate and they’re so efficient”
Making the world cup team has another added attraction for Danielle on top of being able to work harder to improve her times on the track and move up in the world rankings.
“I don’t have the same funding as everyone else on the team so making Worlds will help me get more funding potentially.”
She is currently ranked 29th in the world but says those rankings are somewhat confusing and seem to change from race to race.
Staying in the top 20 would be a great scenario for her in a race category which is one of the most difficult to be consistent in, she said.
“If you make one tiny little mistake you drop five or more placings,” she said. “They’re constantly going down to the thousandth of a second. It’s crazy.”
In spite of that pressure to perform Danielle says she really enjoys the perfection required in her sport.
“Every stride has to count and it’s really racing,” she said. “You just have to be sharp and really on it for the whole race.”