Excerpt from this month’s issue of Dujour Magazine:
The next morning I met Patrick Meek in the lobby of the Waldorf (shown, right, the entryway of the hotel). Boyish and slight, it’s hard to believe Mr. Meek has been speed skating for 25 years. But, as he explained, “My father and my grandfather were both speedskaters so I grew up on the ice.” He doesn’t have the aspect of an elite athlete, except for the outfit. His beanie bears the U.S. Speed Skating logo, ditto his fleece and his sweatpants. But beneath the aforementioned sweatpants, Mr. Meek boasts 29 inch thighs. “One of my thighs,” he told me on the ride to the rink, “is equal to your waist.”
If skiing with Holly Flanders was fun and instructive, speedskating with Patrick Meek was just illuminating. Although Mr. Meek is a gracious host and was refreshingly blunt about the challenges faced by Olympic athletes, speed skating, as it turns out, is extremely difficult and painful to learn.
Mr. Meek proffered a pair of speed skates which I hesitatingly accepted, and we were off. Or rather, he was off, gliding in graceful strides around the perimeter of the rink. I, on the other hand, who had not ice skated since my dating days in Central Park (dates which, for the record, all ended poorly) clomped about like Dame Edna. It was open ice and small children lapped me. A young lady practiced her spiral sequence in the middle. A poster for the local curling team hung in the men’s room wall.
With a patience that belies his youth, Mr. Meek guided me through extremely basic drills, rocking from one foot to other unsteady foot down the straightaways and eventually crossing over on the corners. I fell early and often. But to watch Mr. Meek as he glided next to me, to watch him corner, crossing one leg over the other as gentle and seamless as hands petting a kitten, to see on eye-level what it means to be one with the ice, was both enervating and inspiring. And, in the waning seconds of our hour together, when I finally completed a full circle without crumbling to the ground, I felt as if I too deserved an Olympic gold medal.
For the full article of Josh’s stay here at the Waldorf click here. dujour.com/2012-12//787