Sport: Short Track
Birthdate: July 30, 1988
Birthplace: Champaign, IL
Hometown: Champaign, IL
Residence: Salt Lake City, UT
Height:/Weight: 5’10″ / 132 lbs
Three-time national champion Katherine Reutter is making her Olympic debut in Vancouver. Steadily improving since she joined the senior circuit, Reutter has made the final of the 1500m in each of the last two World Championships, finishing fourth in both. She also finished in the top six in the 1000m and 1500m World Cup standings in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Hailing from the same hometown as Olympic legend Bonnie Blair, Reutter hopes to reach the next level in Vancouver. “[Blair] is a big inspiration because she is very large shoes to fill, and not even as an Olympian, but as a hometown hero,” Reutter said. “I hope I can be half as good as her someday.”
Bonnie Blair, a six-time Olympic medalist in speed skating, played an important role in Reutter’s career, in the form of a speech at the high school they both attended, during Reutter’s junior year. While talking to the student-athletes about what it takes to be great, Blair spoke of being eighth in the world at age 16. Reutter, who was then 16, had been afraid to move away from home to pursue skating – but says she thought about how she was not even eighth in the country, let alone the world. At that point, she decided to move to train in Marquette, Mich., which she did before her senior year of high school. Later that year, Reutter won the 2004-05 Junior National title.
After two years in Marquette, Reutter moved to Salt Lake City in 2007, home base for US Speedskating. At first she roomed with teammate Kimberly Derrick, who is also her closest American competitor. Though the two no longer live together in Salt Lake, they remain roommates on the road and frequently work out together.
Reutter says if she weren’t skating, she’d love to be a performer, singing and dancing on Broadway. Her passion for singing took a back seat to sport – “I can sing forever,” Reutter said – but she still enjoys it. She used to sing the national anthem at competitions, but her coach forbid her after one bad race. “The last time I did it, I was the first race on the ice so I went out there all dressed up, sang, got on the ice and I fell down twice in 4 ½ laps.”
When Reutter started figure skating at age 4, she says she always was more interested in going fast than learning tricks. She instead tried to race other girls on her figure skates, and by age 5 switched to speed skating, choosing short track by default because it was the closest facility. Not long after, 6-year-old Reutter was one of the youngest short track skaters at competitions.
Though she switched to inline skating at age 9, Reutter’s break from the ice didn’t last long. She had quick success on the inline circuit, qualifying for nationals her first year, but her inline career was cut short by a business decision. The inline rink was sold, and the new owner decided not to keep the full-length track, opting instead for a laser-tag arena. At that point, Reutter switched back to short track.