Originally published in the Lake Placid News, Week of September 21 – 28 2016
On cold winter afternoons at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Lake Placid you may have seen a handful of rugged individuals determinedly pursuing their dreams of Olympic success in the face of a myriad of adverse weather conditions.
One of these skaters, Esther Munoz, finished her senior year at Lake Placid High School, then moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, to pursue her career in speed skating. Her training partner, Fletcher Codd, is still here and in his final year of high school.
Codd, 17, is looking forward to another productive winter season in Lake Placid, and plans to use his training time here as a springboard into the next phase of his development after graduation.
“I think my season was great last year,” Codd said. “I really had fun and worked myself hard. Most of my goals I achieved, and I was very happy with that.
“This is my last year at Lake Placid, (and) I had a lot of fun while I was here. For further education, I was pursuing going to college out in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, but I haven’t made up my mind on what school to apply to yet.”
Originally from Wheatfield, a town between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, Codd has been living and training in Lake Placid since 2014. He started speed skating at age 11, competed in short track at age 13 and began competing in long track at the age of 14.
Speed skating is a sport with two disciplines: short track, which takes place on an indoor hockey rink with several skaters in each heat and with a focus on strategy; and long track, in which two competitors skate on a 400-meter oval and focus on time. At some point, skaters have to decide which format to focus on. Codd chose long track after an injury in short track.
“After I broke my leg on short track, I realized that my body type was geared more towards long track,” he said. “When I started, I instantly fell in love with it.”
Shortly after starting long track competition, Codd was attracted to Lake Placid and encouraged by Adirondack Speed Skating Club founder and coach Tom Miller to move to the Olympic town.
“Tom coached me during previous camps, and when I started long training in Lake Placid, Tom thought it would be best if I moved to Lake Placid to step up my training,” Codd said.
And step up his training he did.
During the summer off-season, Codd either skates on special speed skate-style inline skates for 15 to 25 miles or takes a 35- to 60-mile training bike ride, then runs or lifts weights in the afternoons.
During the winter season, Codd skates in the morning for two hours, practicing sprints and technique (when morning speed skating ice is available), followed after a short break by a dry-land workout that includes off-ice exercises specifically designed for speed skaters to increase strength and agility. He returns to the ice from 4 to 6 p.m. to skate laps.
During the week when in school, Codd skates between 4 and 6 p.m. at the oval and completes an assigned workout. On days when the oval is closed, he either does a dry-land workout or takes the day off. Days off give him a chance to finish school work, spend time with friends and sometimes hike if he has enough time.
Codd is dedicated to skating of all kinds. Leisure skaters on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval might have seen him skate-guarding and helping the public during public sessions. He has also volunteered for the Lake Placid Speed Skating Club meets when he wasn’t competing.
Codd’s father, Tim, a former baseball pitcher who was drafted by the Texas Rangers before a shoulder injury ended his career, also has a presence at the oval. He can often be seen standing for long periods at the edge of the oval to help count laps for the competitors participating in the meets, as well as helping set up the ice for racing.
This summer, Codd took advantage of the indoor ice at the Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City, training with the FAST team and working with Olympic speed skater and coach of the FAST program, Tucker Fredericks. Codd recently participated in the Junior Development camp in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, training in the indoor Pettit Center.
“When I went to SLC, I went there to train with the FAST team,” Codd said. “It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot of things while in Salt Lake training with the team. I worked on refining technique, getting over my skates again and learning new dryland exercises.
“At the Junior Development Camp in Milwaukee, I worked on refining technique and building onto basic fundamentals.”
Like all elite athletes striving for greatness, Codd is working hard to achieve this season’s goal to make the Junior World team. His long-term goals include making the Senior national team and “possibly the World Cup and Olympic team.”
Throughout all the training and effort he puts into his sport, Codd credits his parents Tim, who is a physical education teacher and golf coach, and Margaret, a nurse who works nights at the Erie County Medical Hospital.
“Both my mom and my dad have worked very hard and helped me so much to pursue my goals,” Codd said.
Like the many skaters of all levels who have passed through the Lake Placid Oval throughout the years, Codd enjoys skating on the oval and considers the sometimes difficult conditions skating outside part of its unique charm.
“The hardest part about skating in Lake Placid is either the cold or the wind on the back straight. I know that both can be a killer during any workout,” Codd said. “The best thing about skating at the Bunny Sheffield Oval is the history behind it. Knowing that Eric Heiden won five gold medals on the same ice I skate on every winter is a constant reminder that any goal is achievable with hard work, dedication and focus.”