Hudson Halling was inspired to give short-track speedskating a try after watching the Olympics with his family as a young child, taking up the sport for the first time shortly afterward.
Just a few years after stepping onto the ice at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns to begin his speedskating journey, the 15-year-old from Stansbury Park is earning national recognition. Halling was named US Speedskating’s 2020 Male Short Track Development Athlete of the Year last month, capping a successful year that has him knocking on the door of international competition.
“I was pretty excited,” Halling said. “I have a few friends who got on the junior development team last year, so it was really cool to be named the junior development skater of the year.”
He is excited for the opportunity to learn alongside some of America’s top speedskaters later this year during a week-long camp that will include Olympians and Olympic hopefuls.
“That will be really cool training with all the people who went to the Olympics and are going to the Olympics, (and) are going to World Cup (events) and training with those coaches,” he said. “It’s going to be fun this season, so I’m excited for that.”
Halling currently competes for the Oval FAST Team under the guidance of coach Li Geng at the Olympic Oval, having worked his way up the US Speedskating ladder. He admitted that there was a bit of an adjustment period going from regular ice skates to speed skates, but he got the hang of things quickly. He travels to Kearns for training, which can include nine on-ice sessions per week for the homeschooled teenager.
“We went skating once or twice a year since I was three, so I had skated before – just not on speed skates,” he said, noting that most skaters pick up the sport around the age of nine or 10. “It wasn’t too hard. The skates were really long, so I fell over a few times, but it wasn’t super super hard to pick up.”
Since those beginnings, he has become one of the elite skaters his age in the country. The Oval FAST team draws skaters from across the country to compete on the Utah Olympic Oval’s first-rate ice surface, and Halling is one of just three skaters from Utah on this year’s team. Others come from as far away as Chicago and New York to be a part of the team, which takes part in competitions nationwide.
“I really like traveling and competing,” Halling said. “All the skaters know each other, so it’s really fun at every competition around the country when we get to see all our skater friends that we saw at the last competition.”
His goal is to be in contention for a spot on the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team that will compete in Beijing, China, and he hopes to be firmly on the team when the 2026 Winter Olympics take place in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
According to a bio on the US Speedskating website, Halling lists American speedskaters Jessica Smith-Kooreman and Jeff Simon among those who have inspired him, as well as former Oval club skater Steve Johnson. Off the ice, he enjoys skiing, biking and “all watersports behind a boat,” as well as chess and coin collecting. He has memorized and played all 40 pages of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 for submission to the Utah Symphony and is currently learning American Sign Language.
After his skating career, Halling hopes to become an airline pilot like his father, Brian.