231: Apolo Ohno Podcast

January 21, 2022

In today’s episode of ‘Finding your Summit’ podcast, host Mark Pattison, former NFL Player, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Mountaineer who has climbed the Seven Summits, talks with guest, Apolo Ohno, an American Retired Short Track Speed Skating Competitor and an eight-time medalist in the Winter Olympics. He talks about how his father played a big role in shaping his career. He discusses different things from when he was a little kid through the Olympic years.

Episode Highlights

  • 01:50 – Mark tells Apolo that there’s a lot of unique things about him, but his name stands out.
  • 03:35 – Mark inquires about the circumstance that led Apolo to shape his future.
  • 05:07 – Apolo shares that his father’s conditioning of being Japanese was a unique component—like the consistency of trying to always reach for something bigger, better, and seemingly unattainable.
  • 07:54 – How would you ever get inspired by speed skating, in terms of the early days from Seattle when that wasn’t a sport up there? —asks Mark.
  • 09:06 – It’s like a superhero dream, and that was when Apolo fell in love with the sport—when he saw these guys doing these crazy passes.
  • 11:08 – Mark asks Apolo about the prototype of the speed skater player when you diagram it.
  • 13:08 – Apolo mentions that the Russian team was physiologically one of the fittest and powerful out of all the countries in the world, but they couldn’t put it together technically.
  • 15:00 – Speed skating happened mostly by learning, mimicking and replicating what Apolo saw when his father would drive him from Seattle across the border to Vancouver.
  • 17:38 – Apolo says, he’ll always remember this one race because it was the first race that he was competing against someone who had a national team skin-suit—a racing suit.
  • 19:16 – Apolo was matching his speed while four laps were remaining, and he saw that the other guy started to get a little bit fatigued, and that’s when he started to go and picked it up for another gear.
  • 21:15 – At what point did the Olympic Committee identify and pick up Apolo? —inquires Mark.
  • 23:05 – Apolo says, his father had brought him in and then told him about this incredible opportunity to go and be a part of this incredible training program.
  • 25:12 – In that environment, he saw the power of mentorship and the power of coaching.
  • 27:14 – The off-season was where we made ourselves. This was when we did the volume of training. The blood, sweat and tears was at the highest level, says Apolo.
  • 28:13 – Apolo says that he was out of control. Then he showed up at the ’98 Olympic trials, and he got dead last.
  • 30:20 – Apolo’s father dropped him off at his cabin. He said that he is going to stay there until he figures out what it is that he wants to do with his life.
  • 32:28 – When he showed up back into the national team training program, he was in phenomenal shape.
  • 38:14 – Apolo says that it was almost as if the sport was so small, but it was also so representative, regardless of results and outcome.
  • 40:00 – This life lesson wasn’t about us winning the gold, but it was all about how we react and respond when we get knocked down.
  • 42:30 – Apolo shares, when someone is down and out and they come back from unforeseen obstacles and odds and they somehow survive, that’s what motivates him daily.
  • 44:22 – The host says that Apolo’s dad was forcing him to do something that maybe he didn’t want to do, but later in life, he turned that around and used that as fuel.
  • 46:06 – The one thing that was unique that he’s lucky for was that he said yes to everything because he knew that he didn’t have enough experience, says Apolo.
  • 48:08 – Apolo says that the ego was still a part of his personality at that age because he still wanted to win and show the world that he could be something outside of sport.
  • 49:03 – This book is all about transition, all about going from point A to point B, and all about reinvention.
  • 52:55 – The name of the book is called ‘Hard Pivot’. He wrote it in the past two years. It is about embracing change, finding purpose, and showing up completely.
  • 54:20 – As per the guest, retiring is like one foot in the grave. He has to be crawling towards something fun.

Three Key Points

  1. Apolo shares that his father said that he wanted to take the bull by it’s horns, so he thought that he was in the best possible position to raise him. He thought that he would be able to kind of nurture and provide for him, even though he didn’t have any experience.
  2. Apolo saw this crazy sportswear track speed skating on television and immediately kind of fell in love with it. The idea of racing around this, like an ice hockey rink, going at unforeseen speeds to pass other skaters seemed cool. But it wasn’t until his dad took him to Vancouver, BC in which he watched a few of the local short track speed skaters compete, so the Canadians were skating in these localized competitions.
  3. Life will always give us a route and a path that sometimes we’re not ready for. Just when we believe we are getting ready for the most incredible slam dunk or homerun or touchdown of our life—or gold medal—it’ll smack us down into the pads or onto that cold hard ice surface.

Tweetable Quotes

When he was choosing my name, he said that he wanted to choose something unique and different.” – Apolo Ohno

He always would tell me, you have to do more, you’re going to have to do things a little bit longer.” – Apolo Ohno

I started to believe them in some capacity.” – Apolo Ohno

Your dad has the foresight—is trying to challenge you on trying to become the best version of yourself as a little kid.”- Mark Pattison

I wanted to replicate whatever they were doing in those corners that made them look around at these crazy angles.” – Apolo Ohno

We trained on the sports science component of utilizing strength-to-weight ratio in the weight room, but that did not always translate to the power being generated on the ice because it was such a technical sport.” – Apolo Ohno

The other elements were just simply like my dad was obsessive.” – Apolo Ohno

I didn’t have a lot of money, right? So, my father would make me wear my swimming jacket in the hitbox—so you can imagine.” – Apolo Ohno

I was going to stay with him, and then with those four laps to go, I was just going to like, put that hammer down and go as hard as I could.” – Apolo Ohno

That’s when I knew that I was much more suited to be a short track speed skater.” – Apolo Ohno

They had seen, I think, potential that I didn’t see in myself at a pretty early age, as coaches do.” – Apolo Ohno

He forcefully said: You’re going to go. I don’t care if you want to go or not.” – Apolo Ohno

My father figures out whose house I was at. We have a very in-depth conversation.” – Apolo Ohno

I competed in the national team trials which would go to the World Championships—and winning that competition at the age of 14.” – Apolo Ohno

There was this belief that the next American Short Track Speed Skater is going to put speed skating on the map for the United States.” – Apolo Ohno

I was just out of control, and then I showed up at the ’98 Olympic trials.” – Apolo Ohno

All I did was a train every single day, twice a day, sometimes three times a day, and go to school.” – Apolo Ohno

You can’t always control the outcome and every asset, and you have to surrender to that outcome in its result.” – Apolo Ohno

But chapter one of my book is called ‘The Great Divorce’.” – Apolo Ohno

I was able to re-identify with other facets of my curiosity and personality that drove me to be fully immersed in new environments.” – Apolo Ohno

We know about human beings is the conditioning process of doing something for a long time.”- Apolo Ohno

This is why people do this like endurance race, is because it puts them against themselves throughout the whole day.” – Apolo Ohno

The time never stops for anyone, and how we choose to live those 86,400 seconds per day is up to us.” – Apolo Ohno


Resources Mentioned

Apolo Ohno: Twitter | Instagram | Website

Mark Pattison YouTube Channel


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