A scientist's mind in an athlete’s body. ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


29 juin 2017

A scientist's mind in an athlete’s body.

Text: Carl Savard
Photos: Marc-Antoine Caron, Peter Doucet and Passion/Speed/Skating

Short track speed skater, inline speed skating world record holder at the 24H Roller Montreal, author of a book about techniques and mechanical concepts related to short track, brand new coach of the CPVRL and founder of an online boutique selling inline speed skating items, Bruno Pettersen-Coulombe is a passionate man eager to learn and looking for answers. A scientist mind in an athlete’s body.   

On the ice

Even though D2: The Mighty Ducks is what got him interested in skating, the idea of skating fast was more appealing to young Bruno than pushing a puck with a stick towards a net. In 1998, while watching the Nagano Olympic games on television, he falls in love with a sport he did not even know existed: short track speed skating. Living in Varenne, Qc, he joins the Sainte-Julie Speed Skating Club. He later skated for the Montreal-Gadbois club and eventually competed in the top group of the Elite circuit. Even though he took a year off last season, he still plans on competing again in the near future.

On the asphalt

When he was young, he used to rollerblade in the driveway of the family residence with cheap skates on plastic wheels. One day, an uncle offered him skates with urethan wheels and it totally changed the game. He started challenging his buddies that were riding bikes. He even started skating his paper route, jumping over sidewalks, going up staircases and avoiding obstacles but it's only in 2007 that rollerblading for fun turned into inline speed skating.
Following a disappointing season on the ice, Pettersen-Coulombe felt like he needed a change of scenery. While doing some researches on the internet, he came across informations about the 24H Roller Montreal. Feeling like it could be a cool new way to train, he bought everything he needed and started rolling. Since that day, he took part in all the editions of the 24H Roller Montreal but the 2014edition will always be the special one.

The world record

In January 2014 while training in short track speed skating at the RTC in Montreal, Bruno Pettersen-Coulombe enters a reflexion phase. Early training sessions, late night classes in school and friends one by one quitting the sport are taking a toll on him. Motivation is not as high as it used to be. After a few drinks at a party, Pettersen-Coulombe announces that he will beat the 24H Roller Montreal world record for most laps in 24h in the solo category the following august. A week later, a friend invites him to be part of his team for the event, but the idea of beating the solo record still spins in his head. Nobody will make him change his mind. Especially not those who think he is crazy. He started working on his training plan and pretty fast, enjoyed being his own coach, working on his own schedule and doing research to be ready for the challenge.
During those months of training, only one means of transport: his inline skates. Everywhere. All the time. His skates replaced the car, the metro, the bike. Going through some hard times in his life, training for that difficult challenge brings him peace and balance. On race day, the young man is focused on trying to roll at a faster pace than record holder Christian Beausoleil from the get go and try to take a lead on the record and deal with pain later. After eight hours, everything seems to be fine, but on the next morning he hits a wall. Doubt seems to be getting into his brain. The more his friends are starting to believe, the more his own faith seems to be going down.  He ends up falling twice and the second time is too much for him. He bursts into rage and shouts every curse words he knows and is under the impression that he won’t be able to put one foot in front of the other. One of his friends helps him calm down and gets him to focus on going forward. He still is ahead as far as pacing goes and the record is still beatable.
A few hours later, Bruno Pettersen-Coulombe crosses the finish line after sakting 652,32km in twenty-four hours. 151 laps of the Gilles-Villeneuve racing circuit, five laps more than Christian Beausoleil’s performance in 2013. A few minutes after crossing the line, he announces that he will never do it again. A few days later, he starts thinking of what he could have done differently to do better. Four years later, he is definitely keeping the door open to an eventual sequel. He would also like to do the Athen to Atlanta road skate and the New-York 100k.

A book and an online store

Bruno Pettersen-Coulombe is not just passionate about skating, he is also interested in science, maths, mechanic and business. Interests that made him launch two different projects regrouping all his interests. In 2014 he published a book entitled Le patinage de vitesse courte piste - Technique et principe mécanique (loose translation: Short track speed skating - technics and mecanical principles). A second edition with a lot more details came out in 2016. He is hoping to publish an english version soon. The idea behind this project took its roots from his desire to understand his beloved sport better. He alos has the feeling that Canada’s coaching revolves a lot around knowledge shared from coaches to coaches and not a lot on science and studies. Contradictions between coaches, cues given using feelings more than scientific facts, his thirst for answers pushed him to investigate. He ended up finding over sixty serious studies precisely focused on skating, all coming from Europe. Studies he had never heard of in the short track speed skating world here in Canada. Out of these studies and his researches, he wrote what could be call the first complete book on the short track technics and mechanical principles.

Interested in offering the afiocionados another option to buy inline speed skating material, the young man also opened an online shop: Optimal Skating ( www.optimalskating.com )

Even though he is presently getting into another activity linked to speed that will allow him to use his scientist brain a lot, karting, speed skating will always occupy a major part of his life.

For more informations about his book or to do business with Bruno Pettersen-Coulombe, make sur to visit his Website at: www.optimalskating.com

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