Long track long shot making painstaking progress on blades

ALISON KORN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:18 PM ET

TORONTO - Inspired by the 2010 Olympics, the guy who calls himself the “long track long shot” is still chasing his chance.

A former investment banker and McGill University football player who quit the corporate world in February to try a totally new sport – speed skating – Kevin Jagger was recently accepted to train in Calgary’s Olympic Oval program. That was after nine weeks of painstaking progress on blades.

Jagger, 26, is an all-round athlete who holds his own in the weight room and on land. Now spending his days circling the ice with junior athletes, he’s being “literally, constantly beaten by 13-year-old girls.”

“It’s a frustrating sport because I want to go harder and it just gets worse,” Jagger laughed. “You’re on these blades. I find that very hard, just cranking out the laps. Everyone tells you to keep working at it.”

Still, Jagger is loving his new existence as an amateur athlete after spending the past four years working long hours in a cubicle, getting progressively fatter and out of shape. During the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he weighed 227 pounds, compared to his football playing weight of 185.

“I used to have a McGriddle and a sausage McMuffin every single morning, 10 or 12 coffees every day. I ordered out every day, it was just a mess,” said Jagger. "My aerobic energy system is definitely my weaker point. I’ve just been grinding at it. I’ve totally stopped drinking, I’ve lost a bunch of weight. I’ve hit the bike and have been running hills and doing as much as I can. I couldn’t do a five-minute jog before.

“I started off as one of the outcasts in the group, and with the longer endurance stuff I train with the girls, and with the sprints I train with the guys.”

His coach, Abby Ennis, said it’s an accomplishment for Jagger to be training with her group, which is one level below the national development team. Once the other athletes realized Jagger was serious, they accepted and respected him.

“He has a phenomenal attitude and he works hard,” said Ennis. “He watches and he learns. He’s learning from these kids and they’re learning from them too.”

What Jagger lacks in skating technique he makes up for in marketing savvy and social media expertise. The youngest of four successful, entrepreneurial brothers, Jagger’s slick website, www.longtracklongshot.com , is one of the best among athletes. Sponsored by several of his brothers’ companies, Jagger is taking his real-world business acumen and helping fellow skaters seek sponsors and build websites.

For this unusual athlete, sponsorship came first, then the athletic commitment.

“I try to explain everyone has connections, you have to not be shy to ask,” said Jagger. “And I knew I wasn’t going to be successful financially as an amateur athlete because there are better athletes in poorer financial situations than me, so that card was not going to work. The reality is it’s a super expensive sport.”

Jagger estimated his budget to train full time for skating this year at about $37,000. He acknowledges it could take four years to make the national team, so costs will surpass $100,000. And if at the end of it all, he’s 30 years old and broke, the quest still will have been worth it.

“I’m learning a ton about myself,” said Jagger. “This will be an experience that I can take in to a lot of situations. I genuinely believe that if I work hard, one day I will wake up and that day if I skate my best race, I’ll have a shot at making a national team. I want to be perceived as a hard worker who really gave it an honest try.”


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