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McKenzie Browne: But Did You Die?

Episode 23

“Track cycling is the most confusing thing that I had ever heard in my life. I’ve been in it, and I still don’t understand it.

Ever wonder what it’s like to go from inline skating to track cycling to speed skating? Listen to this week’s episode of Talk of the T-Town to hear Andy and McKenzie discuss how she found inline and cycling and then making the transition to the ice, the similarities between three different worlds of sport, and some fond T-Town memories.

McKenzie Brown

McKenzie Browne


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Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom. Along with my cohost, athletic director, Andy Lakatosh.

Andy Lakatosh:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, I’m your host, Andy Lakatosh, and I’m joined today by a national champion in cycling, the many time world’s team member and national record holder in inline skating, a T-Town native, Friday night champion, McKenzie Brown, who is currently chasing down a spot on the, get this, the 2022 Olympic long team. That would be for winter Olympics, spot on the long track speed skating team. Welcome, McKenzie, how are you today?

McKenzie Brown:

Hey. I’m doing great, how are you?

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m doing well. Live in California, 70 and sunny. Maura, how’s the weather in Pennsylvania?

Maura Beuttel:

Crappy. It’s raining, and it’s gray, and it’s gross.

Andy Lakatosh:

Wonderful PA spring day, sounds delightful. How is the weather in Utah, McKenzie?

McKenzie Brown:

Like 45 degrees. It’s been snowing randomly, and then we have a spring day the next day. So pretty bipolar out here. But today [crosstalk 00:01:28].

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, hopefully you don’t get too much more snow. But you do winter sports now, primarily. So that’s not the end of the world, plus you’re indoors.

McKenzie Brown:

That is true. It does not affect us very much.

Andy Lakatosh:

So going back to the little intro, that’s quite the crazy combination of sports and accomplishments there. Can you tell us a little bit, because I know inline is what you started with, and then you found cycling, and now you’ve moved onto ice. But a little bit about how you got started skating, how old you were? I know you grew up here, how you found that in Pennsylvania, because I honestly didn’t know it was a thing, and what some of your biggest accomplishments were in the inline world?

McKenzie Brown:

So I found it back in, I think it was around 2002. I guess I found an ad in the Morning Call about a race that was through SportsFest. It was around Deer High School, it was a five K. Convinced my parents to go to it. Made them buy me a pair of recreational roller blades from Walmart, and did not finish that race, because I would not go down the hill. But we went to it, and a team from Bethlehem called SOS Speed invited me to go to practice, even though I was terrible. Any person that you see that does not already skate, you invite them to come out, similar to cycling. So I went, and then never really looked back from there. I was around seven or eight when I started. Yeah. I never stopped.

Andy Lakatosh:

You did inline as your primary sport then, from seven or eight until how old when you would say that inline was no longer your primary sport?

McKenzie Brown:

Two years ago? So I was maybe 22, 23 when I kind of stopped full-time inline. But I was like 19 went I started cycling. So somewhere in that range.

Andy Lakatosh:

Got you. What would you say were your biggest accomplishments in the inline world before you got to … Well, you have a lot of big accomplishments even after you were cycling kind of full-time too.

McKenzie Brown:

Beforehand, I’d say making my first junior world team in 2011.

Andy Lakatosh:

You were how old?

McKenzie Brown:

Probably my top one. I was 15. Yep. So yeah, that one probably would be first, because that was like the goal we all have growing up. Second to that I would say when I won my first individual national championship in 2009. So I was 13, I had never … This was indoor national championships. So still pretty young. I had never made a final by myself up to this point. We have a division called, it used to be called JO, but it’s Novice now, like the beginner division. I had never made a final in that, let alone the actual elite division. I somehow ended up winning both of those in the same year, after never even making a final. So that definitely is up there as well.

McKenzie Brown:

Then on the world level, I would say finishing seventh in my final 200 meter as a junior. I qualified 12th into that final, they only take 12. So jumping up five positions to finish seventh was a really, really huge deal for me. That’s my best placement ever. So pretty happy with that one.

Andy Lakatosh:

So a couple of interesting things there. First of all you said indoor nationals, right? So you guys have, within the sport of inline, which is going around in a circle, kind of like we do, you have two different national championships?

McKenzie Brown:

That’s correct. There is indoor and then there is outdoor. Indoor is your basic skating rink that basically everyone goes to on a Friday night just to have some fun. So it’s a 100 meter track. Then outdoor, that also gets split up as well. So we have track and then there is road. The track is a 200 meter bank track, that’s what we have world championships on, then as well as that we have the road course, which can be skated in pretty much any parking lot or pavement outside.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. So that’s really, it’s interesting that you guys split it. The road stuff I see as definitely different than the track stuff, right? Because that’s the world that we live in. But it’s interesting that you guys have a separate indoor and outdoor. It would be like us saying, on a scaled sense, we race on a 333 in T-Town, but Carson is an indoor 250. So we’d literally be saying you’d be having two different nationals. Is it that different? Because for us, we look at it and go it’s the same as track racing. Is it that different for you guys? Do different people win that much? Is it a truly different set of skills? What’s that like? Equipment different?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. So I’d say it’s a lot different. I’m personally not as good at indoor. It’s all turning versus more power through the outdoor skating. Even the 200 meter track, you’re using a lot more power than you would on the indoor track. Equipment is a lot different. The wheels, specifically, the skate is the same. But the hardness of the wheel changes. So if you would try to wear an outdoor wheel indoor you’re going to be sliding all over the place. Then indoor wheels, outdoor just kind of get torn up super easily. So that’s the biggest difference. But you do definitely have different people winning indoor than outdoor, and vice versa.

Andy Lakatosh:

So another fun question there about the equipment. Because I’ve been in your house. I’ve seen the stacks of wheels. How many different sets of wheels do you have, or is average to have between training, racing, is there different than that? I know sizes make a difference. It’s kind of like gears a little bit for you guys. Can you explain some of that? Because I’m still confused.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. So there is a lot of different wheel choices. There is different brands that make them. Again, there is different hardnesses. So that’s going to be your main difference. A softer wheel is essentially going to be grippier, and a harder wheel, you’re going to roll faster. So that’s kind of the broad term to explain that. I have a lot, because you go through them super quickly, especially the outdoor wheels, because obviously if you’re skating on pavement, they’re going to just get worn down, the material just doesn’t hold up very well after a while. So if we’re going to, say, world championships, usually skaters will bring around 10 sets of wheels for a two to three week-

Andy Lakatosh:

Holy shit.

McKenzie Brown:

So that’s probably the most expensive part of the sport.

Andy Lakatosh:

How much does a good set of race wheels cost?

McKenzie Brown:

Around 150 to $200.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. So it’s kind of like … It’s like a set of good piece to speed tires, right? You’re looking at a couple hundred bucks gone. How long do race wheels last you then? Because in T-Town, if you baby your tires and only race on Fridays, you can basically get a full season out of a set of wheels. You guys get one competition?

McKenzie Brown:

If even. Yeah. So depending on what we do, for sprinters, you basically want to have a fresh set on for every race that you skate. So I’d probably go through a 500 meter heat semi-final on the same set. But depending on the conditions of the day and if they get a little too rough, then you’d want to change them, maybe for the thousand the next day, or the hundred. Time trials, I always have a fresh set on no matter what. You just want all the grip that you can get. So they definitely wear down a lot quicker than a cycling tire would.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s an obscene number of wheels.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Andy Lakatosh:

But then again, I mean, you walk into my garage or the bar [inaudible 00:09:37] and see all the wheels and stuff I have, and it’s like, “Why do you need all of these?” “Well, you know, it’s Tuesday.” So, okay, so that’s super interesting. I guess last question there, so from the skater’s perspective, should our nationals be separate? Should we run two nationals for track cycling? Is it as much of a different, T-Town to Carson, as it is indoor to outdoor in skating?

McKenzie Brown:

No, I don’t think so, because you’re still putting the same amount of power into the bike. A little bit of control differences, of course, grip. But other than that, you’re racing the same. Indoor and outdoor for skating is a whole different ballgame with different types of racing, and yeah. It’s a bit different.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. I got you.

McKenzie Brown:

I think cycling is easier to just ride your bike anywhere.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. So we keep the event schedule very similar, and you guys do not. Interesting. All right. So that’s your inline. How the hell did you find track cycling? Please tell me in the Morning Call too, because that would absolutely crack me up.

McKenzie Brown:

No, I don’t think so. I think it was on Facebook, honestly. Something like that. My mom actually, somehow, found Andrew Harris right when [inaudible 00:10:59] was starting. So there wasn’t too much of a team yet, maybe one year of it. But we found him just strictly for strength and conditioning for skating training, because I was at that point, I was getting mid-teenage years, kind of wanted to start putting lifting into my schedule, and just doing something extra, because all we really did was skate at that point.

McKenzie Brown:

So I started training with him in the gym, and after probably two years or so, they finally convinced me to get on a track bike and I went out on the track. I was terrified. I thought I had to lean the bike sideways to stay up on it. I had no idea what was going on. But yeah, that was 2014. So right before I graduated high school, and then I ended up just kind of really liking it. Played around with it throughout the summer. Then the following year, 2015 is when I actually started fully training for it, and went to my first elite nationals, and then collegiate nationals that same year as well.

Andy Lakatosh:

That was the year that you won collegiate nationals, right?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. My first collegiate tournament I won. Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

Not such a bad crossover to just hop over and, “Oh, I’ll just take this national title, collegiate or otherwise, it doesn’t matter.” So I mean, it’s always interesting how people find it. I found it because my parents just built a house right next to the track, and we were like, “What is all of this noise about on Friday nights?” So we decided to check it out. So it was interesting, when I asked you when you officially stopped inline, you said later than you officially stopped cycling, basically. So you would consider yourself a full-time inliner and a full-time cyclist when you were competing on the track, right?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. I think I was pretty much full-time for both of them. I think the only year that I didn’t really skate was 2017. I had pretty much given it up just in cycling that year, just to see what would happen. That was the only year that I didn’t go to world championships. I did skate here and there, for fun, to practice. Did some local races. But I didn’t skate nationals at all that year, just to focus on cycling. But other than that, yep, full-time for both of them.

Andy Lakatosh:

What was it like trying to blend two, because you were doing college, and you were borderline full-time at Dick’s Sporting Goods? You really don’t sleep, huh?

McKenzie Brown:

Apparently not, yeah. I also got Koda that year. So add a dog in there.

Andy Lakatosh:

Hold on. Just so everybody knows, we’re not talking about a dog. She has a miniature pony of an Alaskan Malamute, Koda, who is a horse. He trots in the house. He’s actually a horse. He’ll take up the entire couch, bed. We’ve puppy-sat him before, and he is quite the … He thinks he’s a lapdog. He is not said lapdog. So no, you did not get an average dog. You got a horse that you can keep inside.

McKenzie Brown:

Pretty much. A very controlled horse. But yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right. So yeah, so what was blending all of that like? Was it a good crossover? Was it too much at times? How did you wind up managing all of that?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. I’d say it definitely was too much at times. Some of it would suffer here and there. But I’d found a pretty good balance between them all. I think it was because I just enjoyed doing all of it that I didn’t realize what was really happening. All the scheduling and everything wasn’t much to me, just because I wanted to be there. I wanted to do well in cycling, and I think it was skating at the time, I just wanted to have fun. So I wasn’t training much on my skates, I was doing a full cycling program.

McKenzie Brown:

But that was able to just crossover to skating just from me being on skates once or twice a week, if even. I was just so strong from the bike that I didn’t need to do much other than technique work on skates just to go fast. So I’d say that’s kind of how that went for maybe two years or so. Then even after I’d kind of quit cycling and went back to skating, I was really just in school, working, and doing a lot of gym work with Byrds Sports Performance. He did a lot for me my last year, so even then, I wasn’t really skating and it just crosses over. They all go so well together.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s super cool. I mean, that’s awesome that you were able to take everything you built from cycling and go kick ass in skating and then be like, “Okay, I’m going to go back to riding.” So when you went over to ice then, same thing? You just rock up on the ice and go super fast? Or how has that been?

McKenzie Brown:

So it didn’t take too long, I would say, maybe two months or so to really get my feet under me. But I moved out to Utah in September of 2019. So I finished up the T-Town season, because that’s just the last thing I wanted to do before I came out here. Missed all the summer training, so I literally had not been on ice skates for about a year at that point, and just went right into the season. It’s very different from inline, even though it doesn’t seem like it.

McKenzie Brown:

So my feet were sliding all over the place, I didn’t understand how to put pressure in the ice, because in inline, you kind of just run on top of your wheels, and you’re not in a surface, you’re on top of it. But ice skating, you’re in the ice, and if you’re not, then you’re just going to slide all over the place. So that was really hard to figure out. Just learning to not be terrified of having blades on my feet and going super fast around a corner. But I caught on pretty quick, and then got into a rut. You just keep learning as it goes. So two years later, definitely doing a lot better. But first month or so, it was not easy.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s so interesting you describe it as being in the ice and not on the ice, because especially from the cycling background, we definitely think of we’re on top of the surface. But you guys actually have to cut into it. That’s the only way you get your grip is how much you cut into it. So do you, I have no idea, do you sharpen your own skates?

McKenzie Brown:

Yes, I do. So about twice a week, I’d say. We do it before every race, and usually before, we call it a tempo day. So just fast laps where you’re going all out just to get a practice time. You want your blades to be as sharp as possible. So usually about twice a week, and then you’re okay. But much easier than inline, where you don’t go through 100 sets of wheels every month.

Andy Lakatosh:

Damn, you really went through wheels like crazy like that?

McKenzie Brown:

Well, not every month. Exaggeration. But it’s definitely a lot easier to take care of your equipment.

Andy Lakatosh:

So how long does it take to sharpen skates?

McKenzie Brown:

Usually like 15 to 20 minutes.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, that’s not bad.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

I remember when I lived at the training center in the Springs, my friend Gideon was friends with Apollo [inaudible 00:18:14], and so we’d hang out with him. He’d be sitting there, sharpening them, doing it a different way. Then on short track, I don’t know if you guys do this, but they actually bend the blade a little bit, right, to help stick through the corner. He’d be sitting there with his gauge, and running it, and tweaking it, and then bend it this way, bend it that way. Do you guys end up having to do that kind of stuff too?

McKenzie Brown:

So we do that usually at the beginning of the season. Normally you don’t have to for long track unless you really mess them up somehow by crashing or kicking skates with someone else, which doesn’t really happen often. The short trackers sharpen a lot more and have to do that a lot more than we do. But yeah, we bend, and then you rock them as well. So our coaches usually take care of that at the beginning of the season, and then we don’t really touch that, usually, until next summer.

Andy Lakatosh:

So rock is the amount of curve in it. You don’t contact with the whole blade at any time, right? It’s not possible? Kind of?

McKenzie Brown:

I think? I don’t know. I don’t really know that part of it too well yet.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s why your coach does it for you.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay, make my skates fast. Okay, good, let’s go.

McKenzie Brown:

I go fast.

Andy Lakatosh:

So what made you want to go to ice and take … Whereas with inline you were definitely doing both and doing both pretty well. What made you want to go full send, because I know you do inline and cycle still. But what made you want to go full send into the unknown in the apparently very different world of ice?

McKenzie Brown:

So I had kind of always wanted to do it, but I just put it behind me, because I had picked up cycling, and I was, “Oh, maybe that could be my route to the Olympics.” Everyone does ice after skating inline. I think I just wanted to be different. I put that on hold for a bit, I wanted to finish school.

McKenzie Brown:

Then we went to Utah back in, I think it was fall of 2018. They did an inline to ice camp. So a group of inliners went out just to try the ice for, I think it was three days. We were terrible, because we had no idea what we were doing. But I kind of just realized after seeing all of my friends out here that I grew up inline skating with, that this was what I wanted to do. I literally just said, whatever, we’re moving to Utah in September. Yeah. Packed up my entire house, and came out here with maybe five days of ice skating ever.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, that’s about as full committal as you can get to something, right? Right out of the gate, just hell, we’re going to go for it, full send. You graduated from Kutztown in 2019.

McKenzie Brown:

Correct, yep.

Andy Lakatosh:

That was pretty much like, “Done with college, I can go do the real world career thing or I can go slide around on ice.”

McKenzie Brown:

So sliding around on ice it was.

Andy Lakatosh:

What was your degree in from Kutztown?

McKenzie Brown:

I graduated with a Bachelor’s in communications studies and a minor in public relations.

Andy Lakatosh:

Any plans for what you’re going to do with that after riding … Riding. I just think riding. After skating? Or we’re full send into skating and we’ll see what happens after that?

McKenzie Brown:

Kind of full send for right now. But it’s on the back of my mind. Kind of have an idea. I want to work in sports of some sort with it. I’m a huge Philly sports fan, so if I could move back home and work for one of them, that would be the dream. But we’ll see if that happens. If not, just some sort of maybe outdoorsy company. Just something I’m passionate about.

Andy Lakatosh:

So I just want to point out to our listeners right there that McKenzie definitely glossed over something that we’re going to touch on later, that she’s a huge Philly sports fan. That’s an understatement. I’m not allowed to watch sports with McKenzie if the Philly teams are on because I’m not into it enough. So therefore, I’m not allowed to be present when a Philly’s team plays, so she gets kind of violent.

McKenzie Brown:

I do not.

Andy Lakatosh:

You’ve been warned. But anyway, so ice, inline, track skating … Ice, inline, track cycling. Different training between ice and inline?

McKenzie Brown:

For the most part, yes. I think in ice, we have more of a set schedule than I ever did with inline, just because inline skating you kind of meet up at nighttime, after everyone has normal days that go on, and join your local club for your evening practice, and do whatever you want on your own, depending on what level you’re at. But for the ice program out here, it’s similar to what I did with cycling. You’re on a set schedule. If you don’t make practice, you’re in trouble, basically. It’s a set life. Everything else goes around that. So your training schedule goes first.

Andy Lakatosh:

So what does a normal week of training look like for long track?

McKenzie Brown:

Basically, every week is the same. Mondays, we usually have two practices. One on ice, and one off ice. Tuesdays usually are hard days, so we’ll go fast. Wednesday, same thing, back on the ice. Thursday is an active recovery day. Then Friday, Saturday, one or two ice practices, and dry land mixed in through that. We have some on your own bike rides that are outside of the Oval. Basically, skating, dry land, and bike rides are the three main training that we do. Sometimes we mix it up and play some Hockey here and there. Then Sundays off.

Andy Lakatosh:

So you does every ice skater have a bike then? Like that’s a requirement?

McKenzie Brown:

For the most part, I’d say most of them do. We do have some at the Oval that you can just go ride on, just easy spin bikes. But yeah. During the summer, we’re on our bike more than we’re skating. Pretty much everyone has one.

Andy Lakatosh:

So Maura used to swim in college. She uses a term that you used just now a lot. But dry land. I was actually wondering, if you two could compare notes about what dry land … Because you both are dealing with water, McKenzie, you’re is just frozen, right? You’re just frozen swimming, she’s unfrozen swimming. So is the skydiver then like steam swimming? Sorry, that’s [inaudible 00:25:03]. But anyway, what is dry land, Maura, what is dry land like for swimmers? Then McKenzie, what is dry land like for skaters?

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah. So for swimming, we do it every Tuesday, Thursday after practice. It was just like up in the bleachers, doing abs, or running stairs, or circuit work. Just, I don’t know, stuff like that.

Andy Lakatosh:

It sounds like boot camp.

Maura Beuttel:

It’s really awful, especially after you kill yourself in a two, two and a half hour practice. It’s like, “Oh, got another half an hour for you.”

Andy Lakatosh:

McKenzie what is dry land like for you guys?

McKenzie Brown:

So dry land for us is basically technique work. So we have a bunch of different exercises, that you get in skating position, essentially, and work on the technical aspect off ice. So that way, when you get good at it there, it turns us back onto the ice. I feel like swimming, dry land is literal dry land. I don’t know where the term came for us. But that’s what we use.

Andy Lakatosh:

You’re is unfrozen dry land. That’s really funny. So if we go back to 2019, you up and left PA, and we know you love PA, out to Utah, very different scenery. But you took the dog, that’s all that really matters. You basically stepped almost right into your first season of ice, right? Like you got there, and ice pretty much picked up, and you hit the ground running. Then you finished that, COVID hits, and we all go into a really weird, strange thing. For us, here, it’s strange, and it’s different, but at least we’re still doing versions of the same stuff that we’re used to.

Andy Lakatosh:

But you’re now COVID world, in a new world that you’re not even six months into. That’s a pretty rough start to your brand new sport. So I was wondering, and if you would share, because we’re friends, so we stayed in touch through all of this, but what the COVID world of training was like for you? Because you guys would have been off the ice anyway, because the ice shuts down. I know [inaudible 00:27:22] to me before.

Andy Lakatosh:

But you still had to stay on the gas, because you had gaps to close, and things to make up. 2022 is coming relatively quickly, but you don’t have ice. Group can’t train together. I know you did a lot of riding. But I also wanted you to share how you manged to get through that on top of everything else. What it taught you about yourself, and how you grew as an athlete. Because I know when you got back to the ice, you were cooking, right? You stepped in pretty much where you left off, and then just kept going from there. So I was wondering if you could just share your COVID journey as a skater cyclist?

McKenzie Brown:

Yep. Yes. So our season ended in March. We got the entire season in except for one competition. Last year we were supposed to go up to Calgary in Canada, and that was the weekend after everything started shutting down, and we were realizing it was actually happening. So that race got canceled. But at that point, we were all kind of like, “Okay, whatever, season is over. This will be over in a few weeks. No big deal. We’re all going to go home like we had originally planned in April.” So we did that, and then it just kind of kept going as we all know. It was still here. But I went to Colorado at that point, just to be home with my family, because they moved to Colorado. I know most people don’t know that. So I am from Pennsylvania, but they live in Colorado Springs, so I went there to hang out.

McKenzie Brown:

Brought my bike, so I started riding pretty much every day, just because I was bored and had nothing else to do. So that kind of started my off season training. So I was in pretty decent shape by the time I came back to Utah. When we were allowed to do some group stuff again, we kept it pretty minimal, and we don’t really know anyone else here anyways, so we were only around each other, which was a major plus. So yeah. Started training back in mid-May, I’d say, together.

McKenzie Brown:

Did a lot of cycling, I think more than I had done as a cyclist, to be completely honest. I climbed a mountain for the first time ever, that I had never planned on doing. That might be one of my top cycling accomplishments, I would say. It was almost 6,000 feet climbing, like a six hour ride. I fell off my bike at one point, cramping. I got back up, ended up finishing it after throwing a little temper tantrum. But we made it. So that was a pretty cool accomplishment over the summer.

Andy Lakatosh:

As we like to say-

McKenzie Brown:

What’s that?

Andy Lakatosh:

As we like to say, did you die?

McKenzie Brown:

No, I did not. I was close. But I made it.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay, then everything is fine.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. So that was cool, just to have something I felt proud of during the summer since there was no racing. I had been missing going back to T-Town to race, which I had originally planned on doing before everything shut down. Had no inline season. So yeah, basically just got back on the bike. Then they put the ice back in for us in August, and got back in there. We were allowed in the Oval during the summer, very limited, to do some short track skating, which is part of our off season training as well. I got to do some of that. Did some [inaudible 00:30:37], which I thought was super fun, that was a good training for me, just kind of bringing the cycling back into it.

McKenzie Brown:

Then yeah, got back on the ice in August. Had our first time trial, I think, end of August, beginning of September, and yeah, picked up right where I left off. I think I was within a 10th of my PB from the end of the season. Yeah. Just kind of kept going from there. Throughout the actual season, though, I think I actually had more issues with COVID than we did during the summer. We had a few shutdowns, some exposures. I ended up having it right during Christmas. So that was a big block in the road for me.

McKenzie Brown:

But as far as the group went, we run pretty strict COVID rules, couldn’t see people outside of our households or training group. Really couldn’t go anywhere. No coffee shops, even. That was a big one for me, just being able to go on rides and sit down somewhere, just a lot of changes you’re not used to just to keep everybody safe. Of course, it’s going to happen anyways. So we did have a few, unfortunately. But we made it through, and we’re able to have national championships at the end of the year.

Andy Lakatosh:

Awesome. I mean, hey, that’s a win. We didn’t have … At least you got national championships both years. We didn’t have one in 2020, and 2021 is looking good, so far. But only time will tell. But so where are you at in terms of your skating season currently? What do the next few months look like for you coming up now?

McKenzie Brown:

So we just finished our season two weeks ago. We’d still been skating because the ice is still in until this Saturday. So for the last two weeks, we’ve just been having fun skating, doing some fun team stuff on the ice. But we ended with our national championships beginning of March. So I did pretty well for the season that I had. I’m pretty happy with it. Ended with a fourth and fifth place finish in the two 500s that we skated, with a new personal best on the second one. I skated two thousand meter races as well, where I placed sixth and eighth. I ended up fifth overall in the combined four. So pretty good weekend end at the season.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh yeah.

McKenzie Brown:

Going forward, we have about a month or so off. We’re just limited activity, just to kind of recoup, and then back to summer training, going into [inaudible 00:33:15].

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. That’s right. So what is the qualifying process for the games look like for … I’m assuming that it’s probably similar to cycling in the sense of the US has to earn spots first.

McKenzie Brown:

Yep, you got it.

Andy Lakatosh:

Then they have to be filled from within the US team. But how does that whole … In the simplest way possible, I’m sure it can’t possibly be as confusing as track cycling is.

McKenzie Brown:

Track cycling is the most confusing thing that I had ever heard in my life. I’ve been in it, and I still don’t understand it. But skating is similar. I think it’s a little bit less complex for sure. But it does do the same thing, it goes off of world cup spots. Then you qualify from there. So depending on how many would earn for each distance, that’s how many spots that you get for your Olympic trials. So we’d do the trials, which is the main difference, I would say, between the two.

McKenzie Brown:

So I’m already qualified to skate Olympic trials. So no matter what, I will be competing to try to make the team this upcoming January. So based off that, depending on, say you have two spots for a 500, your top two at that trials are going, no matter what. That is your team. As long as you have the time standard, which are set by the ISU, which most people have. So it basically just goes off of that then.

Maura Beuttel:

That’s like Olympic trials for swimming.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah, they’re super similar between the two.

Andy Lakatosh:

But you’re also talking about swimming and skating long track, very linear, very time based, right? It’s not like a sprinter here, where who else is in the field makes a difference of how you get their points raced or something like that. I mean, it would be nice, for the person that wins, it would suck for the person that doesn’t. But anyways, super interesting. Thank you for sharing that with us. Let’s see, what is your proudest accomplishment in inline, cycling, and now on long track so far?

McKenzie Brown:

Let’s see. I touched on inline earlier. I’d still probably say that seventh place finish, maybe my 10th place finish as an elite my first year, in the hundred meter, which is the first year that they had done that, so that was pretty cool. Then winning my first national title, and first world team. Cycling, I’d probably say winning collegiate nationals my first year of racing.

McKenzie Brown:

That was just super cool, just to be brand new at it, and had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t think. I was just racing. I think that’s why I ended up doing so well. That was in Colorado Springs as well. So I got to win that in front of my family. It’s kind of like a second home track. So riding on a cycling track instead of the skating track, and I guess winning two different sports titles in the same track was pretty cool too.

Andy Lakatosh:

Same venue, yeah. So just real quick, for anyone who has never been to Springs, the infield actually has an outdoor skating track on the inside of the infield, much the same as Bryan Piccolo does in Florida. I also remember, because we had no idea what inline was, and we went to Springs [inaudible 00:38:25]. This isn’t bank steep enough for us to try to race around this. I was like, no, no, no, it’s for skating. So it is super cool. It’s super cool to win national titles for different sports at the same venue. That’s super trippy. Then long track, what’s your favorite in long track so far?

McKenzie Brown:

I’d probably say the race from two weeks ago, just because I had a pretty rough season with COVID. Then I also had a back injury that I didn’t really say much of to anyone as well. But I was out for almost two months with that and COVID in the middle of the season. So being able to come back from that and place top five in the 500, with a new personal best, was pretty huge for me. So I haven’t raced too much, especially with COVID. So that definitely would be my favorite so far.

Andy Lakatosh:

Awesome. All right. Favorite T-Town memory on or off the bike?

McKenzie Brown:

On the bike, definitely winning a Friday night race for the first time, my one and only time. But I won the longest-

Andy Lakatosh:

A win is a win.

McKenzie Brown:

Yep. Still a win. I think that one was so fun, too, because it was kind of after I quit. I came back the following summer, I didn’t really mean to race it. I didn’t know where my equipment was. I could barely fit it. I had my dad’s car at the time, I didn’t even have my car in town. So I had a two-seater that I folded up my bike and my racing wheels into, and didn’t even know where my helmet was. I had no idea. So I show up to race, and somehow end up winning the longest lap. I don’t even think I really knew how to track stand at that point. But I was just in perfect position, and still had my start. So the gun blew, and that one lap time trial, and crossed the line first.

Andy Lakatosh:

You didn’t even realize that you’d been training your whole life for a longest lap, and you finally had the opportunity.

McKenzie Brown:

Right, I had no idea. It was a sprint, let’s go, I got this.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yep. Hey, that’s how it goes.

McKenzie Brown:

So definitely on the bike for that one. Then off the bike, honestly, just being able to hang out and make friends with so many people from all across the world. Definitely not something that most people get to do. I think it’s a lot cooler than even making friends in skating. Obviously I know people from everywhere from both sports. But having them in my own hometown, I think, was just really, really cool experience to be around all the time.

Andy Lakatosh:

Very fun. That is one of the coolest. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved most about T-Town is friends, and family, and stuff, and come out and watch you do a cool thing. Favorite T-Town Friday night song, no lies.

McKenzie Brown:

All of them, honestly. Probably Welcome to the Jungle, of course, that’s going to be like the number one for everybody, I think. Enter Sandman is on there. Then throw a curve ball in there, I’m going to go with Cruise, because that’s usually on there. Mainly from summer of 2018, because the whole group I was kind of hanging out with that year, that was kind of our song. So whenever I hear that, I just think about Friday nights at T-Town and it just makes me really happy.

Andy Lakatosh:

There is nothing quite like that. But where does Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake rate on there? Because I know that’s a favorite song of yours. You just don’t want to admit it publicly.

McKenzie Brown:

Oh yeah, it’s on there.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right, well, what’s the number one thing you look forward to when you come back to T-Town, besides Wawa.

McKenzie Brown:

Let’s see, other than that, again, just being around everybody that I don’t get to see throughout the rest of the year. It’s always such a good feeling when you get back to that first Friday night and see everybody. Everyone is just having a great time. Obviously the racing is important too. But just kind of being around all of it. Then T-Town is home for me, so since I moved away, I’m just excited to go home again and be around it, and ride my bike through a cornfield and not up a mountain.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. You and me share the [inaudible 00:42:37]. Green is a much better look.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah, it’s pretty bad here. So just being around all that again just makes you feel like you’re home.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. No, I’m very familiar. I’m looking forward to seeing green in a few short weeks. All right. Last question, and I know your answer is yes, but let’s be realistic about this. Do you actually think the Eagles will ever win another Super Bowl so long as you have aired your [inaudible 00:43:03]? Not your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Will you ever see them win another Super Bowl?

McKenzie Brown:

No, I really hope so. Right now I’m a little worried. But I think we’ll pull back through. I’m glad I got to experience that win like I did. But honestly, I’m kind of hoping for a Flyers win first, before that one happens again.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, okay.

McKenzie Brown:

I haven’t seen that one yet.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, I guess we’ll find out. I hope for the … Have you found a good bar in Utah that palsy all the Philly sports?

McKenzie Brown:

No. There are none. But my good friend Ally gave me her RCN cable pass, so [crosstalk 00:43:47] has been a great Philly sports viewing. I have my Eagles championship poster up in here still, and I have a nice Pennsylvania home metal sign, I guess that I got for Christmas. I feel like I’m home, even though I’m not.

Andy Lakatosh:

Koda is pretty much always wearing a neckerchief with something Philly’s related.

McKenzie Brown:

It’s on him right now. He’s got a gray bandanna and a Flyers [inaudible 00:44:12].

Andy Lakatosh:

True PA girl through and through. All righty. Well, I think that wraps it up for this episode of Talk of the T-Town Podcast. If you like what you hear and you want to hear more, don’t forget to click subscribe. You can find us all the places you like to get your podcasts from. Thank you very much, McKenzie, and we’ll see you next week.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of The T-Town Podcast with hosts Joan Hanscom and Andy Lakatosh. Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode, brought to you by B. Braun Medical Inc. Head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.