One SLACer's Smooth Ride to the World Cup
(Photo by Olga Kuchment.)
"I'd love to have done better," Focke says, adding that he looks forward to having a "#1" on his helmet next year.
Focke's total points from his best four races in 2009 earned him the
International Gravity Sports Association's prize. He competed in France and Italy, in Los Angeles, and in Washington state. At the World Championship race in Bathurst, Australia, he made fourth place despite a broken wrist.
"I want to win, but I still have fun when I don't," he says. Sitting in the office on a rainy Friday afternoon, he laments having to miss his normal outdoor practice session. The back of his chair hosts a leather jacket, part of an old skating suit. His long hair is tied back in a ponytail. He is wearing one of his many skating-themed T-shirts; this one a souvenir from the race in Australia.
Focke bought his first set of skates about 15 years ago, as a physics graduate student at the University of Maryland looking for a fun way to exercise. After he finished graduate school in 1998, a postdoctoral position at SLAC brought Focke to the Bay Area. He joined a San Francisco skating group and quickly realized that the city's hills were a fun challenge. Several of his friends had the same epiphany.
The skating group began to hold extra sessions to practice the more advanced downhill form of the sport, and Focke bought a full set of safety gear. The sport's "personal protective equipment" includes gloves, a helmet, a full leather suit
and rigorous training at braking sharply. One of the guys in the downhill skating group told Focke, "you should come out and race."
Focke took his friend's advice. He borrowed speed skates and completed his first competitive event in Barrett Junction, CA in 2001—the beginning of an acclaimed career.
Blood Drive Today
Come Help SLAC Take On Silicon Valley's Finest
The SLAC Blood Drive
takes place today in the Panofsky Auditorium breezeway. This year, all are
invited to participate in the first competition among tech companies in the Bay
Area that, like SLAC, hold at least four blood drives during 2010.
Participating organizations such as Apple, Cisco, eBay, Google—and SLAC—will be
awarded "points" after each drive, based on performance. In addition to
helping put SLAC in the running to win, donors will receive a special edition Donor Cup 2010 drawstring gym bag. And more than that, blood donors get the satisfaction of knowing they've helped to provide hope and life to a patient in a local hospital.
The blood drive is open to members of the SLAC community and the general
public. Please make an appointment or drop by when it is convenient for you.
To make an appointment or for further information, please see the
SLAC Blood Drive